It has been said that finances are one of the main sources of disagreement in married couples. If the thought of reading or even talking about finances made you cringe, then this might be a more real topic to you than you’d like to admit.
Money stirs up funny feelings in many of us. It’s this thing that comes with so many memories and strings attached. Growing up, you might have come from a family who talked about it openly and you want to replicate that in your marriage. On the flipside, you might relate finances to religion and politics, which are to be spoken of in hush tones behind closed doors. Whichever side of the spectrum you may fall, it’s these inert different views of finance that cause friction day-in-day-out in a marriage. What’s the solution? If you’ve been following us for any amount of time then you know it’s all about communication and expectations.
For our purposes here we’re not going to talk about how to retire happily into your golden years; we’re focusing on setting down good foundations for your marriage now. The following steps are meant to create a dialogue between you and your partner so that finances are liberating and no longer frustrating.
1. Stop and access the damage – Whether you’ve been fighting about finances or slightly disagreeing, you should take a moment to breathe and access where the money is going and why. Often times, couples assume that their better half understands how they want to run the household, like through telepathy or something. How often have you assumed something and it happened exactly as you thought? I mean, everyone thought the housing market was infallible and then the 2008 crash happened. Assumptions are not a bad thing if they are based on an open dialogue with your partner. So start talking and see where the cards lie.
2. Where do we go from here? Set some goals! – Once you know where the money is going, it’s time to set some goals. If you really think about marriage, it’s generally a goal setting agreement. Your wedding ceremony could have read as follows, “Do you agree to join all your future goals with this person?….” And you said through tears of joy, “I do!”. In reality, your goals can focus around anything such as paying off student debt, saving for a down payment on your dream home, or even paying your household bills on time. This part isn’t hard but it’s so much fun to dream together. Make sure to set tangible and realistic goals. We all want to have $1,000,000 in the bank but if you’re only making $50,000 a year then that might be your longer term goal.
3. Plan your next week – Now that you have an assortment of goals, start planning for the immediate future of how you are going to meet these goals. Agree to how you will spend and save in the coming week. It could be as simple as we’re only going to eat out once this week or I’m going to reduce buying coffee to two days instead of four. It doesn’t have to be together, but the act of agreeing on simple financial decisions is a start. Small actions are the beginning of big movements.
4. Plan your next month – Now that you have a week planned, make sure you are set for this next month. Are your bills going to get paid on time? Is there a little budget set up for a date night or two? This may take a little longer as you work out the due dates for bills, but creating this budget for each month creates a lot of peace of mind and gives you both something to look back on when you’d like to make changes.
5. Plan your next year – This is where you can start planning for big goals for the year. Do you want to pay off all your student debt, the car, or even the house? This could also be save up for that amazing get away to Europe or South America; the sky is the limit on your imagination. Your yearly goals should be aspirational so that you are actively working towards your dreams as a couple. We personally hate debt and the limitations it can bring to our life so we are actively setting our sights on paying that off. Once we’re there, we want to travel the world.
6. Work your plan – This may seem pretty common sense but after all that planning, it’s time to get to work. Doing one new thing a day or consistently doing a new thing over a week towards your marriage financials will yield huge results in the long term. Ultimately, planning finances may seem like a less than exciting marriage activity but seeing as it has caused significant strife in many marriages, it is an investment in your own well-being that can’t be overlooked.
Have any tips or tricks for making finance in marriage a breeze? We’d love to hear about them.