Marriage and Money – Life Lessons
It just occurred to me that the hubby and I haven’t fought about money in almost 3 years! When I first started actively trying to make a difference to our finances, I was convinced that we would never find a way past those explosive arguments.
Why such and such a bill hadn’t been paid. Or about who spent what and why. Relate document the top 5 money issues in relationships and everyone fitted us for sure. There was a time that I was convinced our marriage would not survive our money issues.
Like everything in my life, changes happened in small baby steps headed in the right direction.
To celebrate our 3 years of living money fight free, I thought I would share what we’ve learned over the years.
1. Talk about money, often
Managing your finances is an ongoing event. It doesn’t matter how amazingly you get everything sorted and organized. If you don’t revisit it every few days, you are setting yourself up to fail.
The easiest way to accomplish this is having a set day to pay bills and balance your budget. If one of you likes doing the budget (likely the one whose reading this now!), that person can pay bills and balance the budget on their own during the day.
Someone asked my on Instagram the other day what habit that I had implemented that made a real difference? For sure, this would have to be checking the online banking every morning. This doesn’t take more than 2 minutes. It’s the one thing that keeps us on track. Contactless payments are convenient but so easy to forget.
It takes time when you start out budgeting. Just like any skill you make mistakes, learn, adjust.
At night, both of you sit down for a 10 minute chat where you present a quick overview of how the week’s spending was, how the budget is working out, any weaknesses you would like to identify and possible solutions.
It’s not a blame game thing. Life happens. I didn’t start this to be frugal. To never purchase anything without permission. Or to turn into a miserly with money. Ha, I love the odd Starbucks, new lipstick, glittery nail varnish as much as the next girl!
You can read more about how to set up a budget here.
2. Assign Responsibility
In our family, it’s my task to pay the bills on time. Unlike a few years ago if anything isn’t going to be paid on time for any reason (like, if there is a bill dispute or I’m waiting to hear back from a company). I let hubby know.
The big change really is the communication.
The other thing that changed is we now both have access to the online banking accounts. Along with all other bills such as utility and credit card accounts.
While I manage stuff, I believe it protects our family, and increases our financial security that we both have visibility.
Sadly, I know of several families that have divorced, lost the house, filed for bankruptcy, and lost their job because someone had a hidden drug problem, spending or gambling addiction.
It’s a win-win for us. There are no hidden surprises that are buried to avoid an argument. We tackle stuff together.
3. Get On The Same Team.
You fight because you have different goals. You’re pissed that he gets to spend £400 on a drill and you have to explain yourself for a measly £50 spent on a completely reasonable herringbone pencil skirt that will last you for years! I get it, I know how that feels.
The basic component of every conflict that you have in a marriage is compromise. You’re exchanging your individual goals for new combined goals.
You may want to have a huge savings, investments, live debt free, and not buy a house until you can pay cash.
He may want to have the top of the range car and three long-haul holidays a year because “YOLO: You only live once!”.
Sit down together and decide on goals that you’ll work towards. Every situation has a solution.
You and your partner aren’t a business though. You’re a family and his opinion is equally important.
Neither of you are “right”, find a happy medium that you can both live with. Write those goals down and keep them with your finances, discuss them often.
4. Monitor Your Progress.
Nothing brings a team together quite like winning. If you chart your progress to reach your goal, you’ll feel more and more like a team.
As your situation improves and you can see your system working, it will reinforce that you guys are now a successful team. The more you feel like a team, the easier this will be and the more “on board” the budget hater will be to the idea of saving money.
I’m different from other budgeters, because I don’t necessarily want you to squirrel your money away in an investment fund and retire rich (unless that’s what you want, in which case awesome!).
Whatever your passions are in life, I want you to have those things. I want you to stay focused on the things that you want and eliminate spending money on the things that don’t matter to you.
Because I can’t envision being on my death bed and saying “You know what the best part of life was? All those Big Macs… They were amazing.”
Your budget is reflective of you as a couple. I want you to plan accordingly for the future, but I’m not asking you to deprive yourself of everything you ever wanted in favour of a fat savings account.
I’m just asking you to sit down and decide what’s important as a couple.
Spend money on that. It’s that easy.