So, you’ve been fighting again? Are finances really why you are fighting? As a couple, what is really at the heart of your argument? You might be surprised.
I believe when we fight about finances, the situation is two-fold:
- You don’t trust that the other person has the family’s best interest at heart.
- As a couple, you both have put off deciding how your finances are going to be handled, leaving room for many poor decisions that you both will make from time to time.
It can be one or both of these issues. If it is trust, that is a deep issue and one that I would encourage finding a counselor to help you both work through. Maybe your spouse hasn’t proven themselves trustworthy or you may have trust issues. If you or your spouse has secret accounts or credit cards, that is a flag that you are dealing with trust issues, or maybe one of you deal with a spending addiction.This is such a major part of your marriage, that I encourage you to talk to someone about it today.
If it is the second situation, this one is a little easier to fix. For one, the first step you will need to make is to come to an agreement that you are going to DECIDE vs. SLIDE on your financial future.
The University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project has this to say:
Sliding versus deciding. Couples who make intentional decisions regarding “major relationship transitions” are more likely to flourish than those who slide through transitions…
Financial stressors are the leading cause of marriage woes and unsurprisingly 2/3 of Americans live without a budget. (Do you see a correlation there?) If you don’t live by a budget, you aren’t going to be able to make wise decisions about a wide variety of life choices. This will lead to fighting over all these and many more decisions. There are many examples of powder kegs that will blow up in your marriage because you simply haven’t sat down to make a decision to “adult” and build a budget.
Can you answer these questions? If not, these are things that can start misunderstandings, conflicts and tension.
- How much should we spend on a home?
- Can we afford this car?
- Am we saving?
- Should we go on vacation?
- Should we cut back on eating out?
- Can I buy these shoes?
- Should I find a job closer to home?
- Should we have children? How many?
- Can we afford to send my child to this class?
- Can we give to this charity or church?
- What if something breaks down? Where is that money coming from?
We have so many choices and so much to spend our money on, that it is no wonder that there is major stress in our marriages when we don’t live by a budget. But, instead of settling for stress, decide today to make a change for your marriage, for your peace of mind, and for your family. Begin instituting wise financial practices by the simple act of setting up a budget. If you live by a budget, these questions will answer themselves.
We live by a cash budget and it has been very freeing. This is why we love our cash budget:
- No more mindless swiping. We know what we just spent at Target and what we have left in the envelope.
- You are less likely to make impulse purchases when you are spending cash.
- You are more mindful of your spending, leaving more money left over to be generous, to vacation, to celebrate, etc.
- You don’t feel the stress of “what if the _________ breaks?”
- You don’t worry that the other is spending money you don’t have. (You are a team!)
- You work together & get creative at making your finances go further.
- You teach your children how to handle and appreciate money.
Here is one of my favorite pictures of all time. It’s not because it is perfectly framed or is particularly beautiful. I love it because it is a picture of my daughter’s “pretend” cash envelope system. She is play-acting what we are modeling to her: good, financial decision-making.
Here are some great resources that will help you along this journey.
- I have a printable budget PDF, download for free. Use with abandon! 🙂 Just sign up and receive access to my library of free printables.
- BYU – Marriot School of Management offers free training and resources (budget templates, etc.) all for free on their site.
- My personal favorite: Dave Ramsey. We followed his program when we were newly married to get our finances under control, become debt-free.
Our financial habits are one of the strongest things about our marriage. We are in agreement on our goals, spending and budget. You can be too, as long as you DECIDE rather than SLIDE.
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