They say that money is the number 1 marital conflict, and now that I’m married I completely understand why that’s true. Money can become the biggest issue in your marriage if you do not prevent problems before they can occur.
When we first got married we took the Dave Ramsey course through our church. It was single-handedly one of the most important thing we ever did. I can easily say that was the best decision for our marriage and the success of it. The things we learned have prevented guaranteed thousands of arguments about money in the almost 7 years we’ve been married. I am not saying we don’t fight about money, but the skills we have learned keep up on the same page even in the tougher discussions and arguments. I would love to share somethings we have learned that have helped us as a married couple coming into the conversation about money from completely different upbringings, perspectives, and being polar opposite about pretty much every aspect of money that you can think of.
1. Who are you?
Each marriage generally has types of ‘money personalities.’ Generally each marriage had 1 type of each but this will not necessarily always be the case. Whatever your marriage has, it is successful to know what each of you are in order to start figuring out how to tackle the financial strategy for your family.
a) Free Spirits (myself…although my husband is turning me more and more away from this type)
Free Spirits are the type of people who enjoy spending money, are not concerned or weighed down by budgets. Credit cards are dangerous for this type of person. We are more ‘in the moment’ shoppers, emotional shoppers and don’t always think of the consequences of our bank account while making a purchase.
b) Nerds (my husband)
A lot of thought goes into purchases; when buying a birthday or christmas gift for me, my husband will research the item, check multiple stores to make sure he is getting me the best deal for the purchase and wait several days before actually buying the item. They feel a lot better when they know their complete financial whereabouts and their finances are organized and planned out.
2. Making the Budget
One of the key things we learned in making the budget is: both need to be involved. I, being the free spirit, had zero interest in this aspect BUT why it is important I learned, is that by me having a ‘say’ in it made me a lot more willing to participate and follow it when I felt like I played a role in the creation of it. Something creative my husband found in this was giving me monopoly money in what we bring in monthly. Then I had to put that money into our outgoing expenses so I could literally see where our money is going and help decide where it was going in the categories we had a bit of decisions in. It was a brilliant hands on activity that helped me get the importance of a budget as we were starting out this process.
3. Budget Meetings
Dave Ramsey has rules for these meetings for each personality. My rules as a free spirit was to: show up (funny but a necessary rule because this didn’t really come naturally for me) The Nerds rules were to allow the other to participate and have a say: something that may not be as easy for them! My husband has be known to persuade me with chocolate and ice cream to show up, but it really is necessary to be checking in. We recently have fallen off our budget with moving, additional expenses that come with that, the busyness with moving, and our poor excuse that our bank is not in the town we live in (there is an ATM so really this excuse is a justification) Anyways I started to notice things were off track but couldnt figure out what was exactly happening. I decided to look more into it and realized our food budget was being overspent by HUNDREDS of dollars!!!!! If I didn't have the knowledge to be tracking our budget and having these check-in meetings or moments, I would have completely missed this and possibly gone on for longer overspending in this category!
Sometimes we come into a relationship and then marriage with debt and sometimes it occurs together once together, either way its something that needs to be dealt with. This WILL affect your marriage whether you believe it or not. The course we took had a method called the ‘debt snowball’ and it makes a lot of sense, we thankfully did not have debt in our situation but have had to make financial decisions that have weighed heavy on us over the years and it enlightened me to how it feels to be weighed down by money issues. The other strategy is to be ‘gazelle intense’ about changing your financial situation. If you have ever seen a gazelle outrun a bigger animal (I highly recommend you-tubing that right now) Its focused and intense. That how serious it should be to get the debt gone. I have seen people get out of over $30,000 over the course we took and there are thousands of stories exactly like that…if your serious about getting into a better financial situation, its possible with the determination and strategies out there. I am not here to promote Dave Ramsey more than I already have, I am sure there are other methods and people out there that can help in this area especially, all I am here to say is that debt will affect your marriage and dealing with it will be a direct positive affect to your marriage.
This really shouldn’t be #5 on the list. Something important we have learned is to pray and seek God’s wisdom before we make financial decisions. The bible has endless words to guide us with finances and we should be using them to help us. Our biggest goal in life is to follow the path God has for us and that even includes our financial path. We are hoping that as we seek his guidance it can bring us closer to that path because our selfish nature will try to take over at every step of the way, so maybe that means waiting longer then we would like in the pace of using the land, but I am far more concerned with the purpose of the path then the pace of the path.
Look I am not saying money is easy in a marriage, it’s not. I think the key is recognizing what type of spender and organizer your spouse is and staying on the same page EVEN if your opposite like we are. You won’t always see eye to eye but being on the same page keeps things in a good place. If you both have the same goal, even having different approaches can be okay and not detrimental like so many marriages fall into. What I have outlined is not even close to all of the skills we have learned but a glimpse into it. My main point is that addressing your finances, learning about your spouse with finances is beyond important in the success of your marriage. People over look it far too often and I think it is something significant to talk about, especially young marriages like ours, to ensure things that CAN be detrimental AREN’T…but it takes intentional and purposeful work on your part.