No one gets married thinking about divorce, but we know it happens to so many couples. If we could figure out what causes it, would we try to avoid it? OF COURSE WE WOULD. We’re not dumb. There it is in black and white, on every list of the most common causes of divorce: money and financial issues. Here’s the thing – it isn’t a lack of money that makes the list. It’s the issues that come from not being on the same page financially with your spouse – not seeing eye to eye about money. Maybe one spouse is a spender while the other is a saver, or one insists on controlling every aspect of the finances without letting the other have a say. What is comes down to is that if you aren’t on the same page, with the same vision of your financial future as your spouse, there will be issues. So, how do you get on the same page?
We don’t have the perfect marriage, but we do have one with a strong foundation built on trust, respect, and love. We are partners and we are on the same team. My husband is a natural saver, I am a natural spender. Because of my bad financial history, I’ve learned to become a more of a saver. We started our marriage with debt and without really any idea of how the other dealt with money. We didn’t really know where our money was going every month, and we had a rough period where Jed was searching for a job after a cross country move for my career.
Family members pointed us towards Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, and we took the class together. It changed everything. It gave us the tools to really set ourselves up for success financially, get out of debt, and get on the same page with money. I always tell people it is the best thing we did for our marriage besides following Jesus. This post is not sponsored by Dave, though he totally should sponsor my blog as often as I talk about him. I just really believe that FPU is life changing. Even if you don’t take FPU or don’t like Dave Ramsey’s approach, I’ll share with your four basic things you can try to help get on the same page financially with your spouse.
Four things we do consistently to help us stay on the same page with money and keep our marriage healthy:
- Monthly Budget Meetings – Before the first of the month we sit down together and discuss our budget for the next month. We add every dollar that comes in to a category. Our categories include: charitable giving, savings (retirement, college funds, future car), home (mortgage, home improvement, utilities), food (grocery, dining out), entertainment (date nights, Hulu, Netflix, etc), personal (gifts, mad money, kids, clothing). This doesn’t mean we spend every dollar every month, we just tell it where to go and agree on it as a team. If one partner is left in the financial dark and has no say in how many is spent, resentment will start to build. Conversely, if one partner feels the entire burden of the finances because the other isn’t interested or won’t make themselves care, resentment comes in.
- Mad Money – Each spouse gets a set amount of cash every month to spend however they want without question or approval from the other. Sometimes our budget is super tight and we only get $25 each. Other months we get much more. This money is our individual slush fund to spend on anything we want. It is SO FREEING. For those of you who have lived on a tight budget you know what I’m talking about. When every dime has to be accounted for, you can feel really restricted. Having mad money, no matter how small the amount, gives you freedom within your budget.
- Joint Bank Account – For some of you this is a no brainer, for others you are thinking no way. Why would a joint bank account matter? Combining your finances as a married couple is part of the deal. Sharing a joint bank account shows trust, respect, and partnership. I know lots of people won’t agree, but for us it is important.
- Talk About Major Purchases – Set an amount that you both agree upon, and make the commitment to discuss any purchase over that amount. Our’s is $100. Our budget is small, so we have to keep a tight reign on it. Anything over that amount we talk about as a team. If one person doesn’t agree, we don’t buy it until the person who wants it can afford it with their mad money.
How do you avoid financial issues in your marriage? What’s your best advice for keeping a marriage healthy? Join our March Marriage Challenge here and find other great posts about making our marriages better.
I find it disheartening so many have not discussed finances before marriage.
You mention Dave Ramsey and I must admit, I find irony in the fact that Ramsey used to take credit cards before people starting calling him out on it. I am not a fan of his and all of the information he promotes can easily be found, for free, utilizing the library. I also use a credit card responsibly and thanks to my rewards we have gone to see my stepdaughters 5 times in two years and they have come to us three times in two years at just the cost of taxes on the plane tickets. I have no debt other than a car payment which we pay over the maximum amount just to keep our credit well established.
I do not think people should get married without having in-depth discussions about finances and credit. It is just responsible to know that as you become a unit this will be one of the most important things in a marriage. Cheers to you for letting people know that.
Thanks Heather! I love hearing what works for other people, so thanks for sharing your story. I know most people either love Dave or can’t stand him. We definitely could have found everything he teaches for free, but never would have changed our habits without taking the class. We thought we were doing fine even though we were drowning in debt and didn’t know where our money was going. I think so many folks want to believe in the fairytale image of marriage, and talking about practical things like how to handle money gets pushed to the wayside. Being on the same page is SO important.
it’s so important to discuss money before marriage. Sadly, many don’t even figure out their finances at all, let alone before marriage.
My hubby and I lived together for about 2 hours before we were married, when I had a close to minimum wage job, he was was in grad school and doing part-time paid internships. While we didn’t have a joint bank account, we split all shared expenses down the middle. I kept a spreadsheet of every expense and who paid for it. If hubby paid our rent one month, I would buy groceries and pay the utilities, etc. But we both still had control of our remaining earned money. It was a great start to learning about each others’ financial habits and preferences and we have never had a major financial argument in the 7 1/2 years we’ve been married.
We did get a joint account just before we were married and have shared responsibility ever since which is important since I am currently home raising our three children. We’ve never seen it as “his” money or “my” money, he sees the value in what I do at home and I respect how hard he works to financially support our family.
I love what you said about “his” money and “my” money. It is so important to view all of it as “our” money.
My husband and I were just talking about how some of our friends don’t share a bank account with their spouse. It is just strange to us.
This is a great, informative post. We also read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. It’s helping.
We did Dave Ramsey’s class and are DEBT FREE with a giant chunk in savings! 🙂 I’m not sure if I 100% agree with him on everything, but having that security blanket sure is peaceful!!!
I know money is a stressor when it comes to problems. My chronic pain has caused stress for our family. Communication is super important.