Money is one of the top stressors in many marriages.
For us, money hasn’t been something that has been a major cause of stress for us, but I’ve seen plenty of relationships where money discussions (or the lack therof) have caused problems.
Whatever the reason is that money is causing problems in your relationship, they are worth resolving – and with a little bit of help, they can be!
A few weeks ago, I shared a post about money managing tips for newlyweds...but today, I will be sharing common marriage and money problems – and how to resolve them.
Thank you for Capital One for partnering with us on this post. All opinions are 100% my own.
Recently, Forrest and I had the opportunity to attend a Money Coaching session with Capital One. It really opened my eyes to how important it is to align your goals and values with one another for financial harmony.
These are entirely free – no strings attached – sessions that you can take with your spouse or partner, and I think EVERYONE should take them. As I mentioned, money isn’t a big topic of contention for us, but it really did help us to put down our goals and come up with a plan on paper.
We also participated in the Money Matched “dating game” at the Denver Capital One Cafe, which was so fun! There were two other local Denver couples participating, and it was fun to dive deep into our emotions and feelings toward money.
Afterward, we attended a free workshop – also offered by Capital One Cafe. These workshops will be offered through the rest of the month—visit http://bit.ly/talkmoney16 to sign up.
It felt a bit like a therapy session! But I really enjoyed it. I loved that it didn’t focus on how much you made, if you were in debt, etc., but it more focused on figuring out how to discuss tough topics, actively listen, and discover your spouse/partner’s values when it comes to finances.
I think that a lot of the issues I will discuss below can be solved or helped with a money coaching session, and I truly love what Capital One is now offering. I believe it has the ability to change lives and even save marriages. Discussing and figuring out finances doesn’t have to be bad – and these sessions can make all the difference by bringing in an impartial third party to help!
Check out the next couple Workshops at the Denver Café, 1550 Wewatta Street:
So, now back to these marriage and money problems. These are issues I’ve seen plague many relationships, so hopefully this will help you navigate any of these that you may be experiencing.
Forrest and I decided early on in our marriage that debt wasn’t something we wanted to mess around with.
While we had a small student loan from when Jack was born that we paid off last year, and now, a mortgage, we’ve been able to avoid most other forms of debt, and I’m grateful for that.
Could we qualify for a larger mortgage or a loan on a nicer car? We sure could. However, for us, it’s more important to live a little less in order to feel more financially confident. This can make things a little trickier…but we prefer to figure out how to live below our means, rather than have to be in debt to others.
If you are in debt already – no matter how deep that debt is – you can get out. It does take some major changes.
- Live within (or below) your means
- Pay off debt aggressively – there are different ways to do this
- Don’t get credit cards unless they are necessary
- Make extra payments on your home mortgage
- Buy a home that is at the bottom end of your budget
- Buy a car you can afford
- Talk with a debt counselor to figure out how to best pay off debt.
- Figure out what is good, better, and best for your family and situation.
No Direction or Goals
It’s completely natural to have different goals – especially when you are first starting your life together.
However, it is important to know what those goals are and find a way to align them. For instance, if one person just wants to travel the world their whole life, eat out every night, and live it up while they can, while the other person wants to pay of the house early and retire at 50,
- Participate in a money coaching session
- Write down, as a couple, where you want to be financially
People get scared to talk about money – and for many, this just means avoiding it all together.
However, doing this really doesn’t benefit anyone, and I believe it causes far more issues than it solves.
If your spouse and you aren’t talking about money, it’s time to start. Whether you go to a money coach or just make the effort – it will make a difference!
- Set a specific time each month to sit down and discuss your budget, goals, etc.
- Reward yourselves – make it part of a date night, eat ice cream as you do it…just make it less of a miserable thing!
Too Much Separation
Whether or not your spouse and you decide to combine bank accounts and finances is up to you. However, keeping things too separate and having a “mine, yours, and ours” mindset can cause issues.
- Combine accounts
- Have access to each other’s accounts if you aren’t sharing an account
- Play to your strengths, but make sure you involve each other. If one person is in charge of the bills, make sure the other still knows what’s going on.
There are some people who are just totally carefree. They’ve never balanced a checkbook, live life on the edge, and don’t mind swiping the credit card for the things they want.
While this can bring temporary satisfaction, it can be a major cause of stress – on your relationship and your wallet.
If someone just doesn’t care about their budget or how much things cost, it’s something that needs you need to overcome. I find this often comes with age, but sometimes, that can be too late.
- Have a serious discussion about the future and where you want to be.
- Find ways to budget in fun – this is possible in almost all budgets.
- Cut up the credit cards (discuss this first – I wouldn’t just do this as a passive aggressive move).
No Fun Fred
You don’t have to be named Fred to encounter this issue. I know I probably make it sound like you shouldn’t ever spend any money or have any fun…but if you know me, you know that’s not how I roll!
I think it’s entirely possible to have fun (go out to eat, go on vacations, check out the latest movie) on a budget. But I know that in some marriages, there is one person who just wants to spend no money – and they take it to an excess.
- Calmly discuss your desire to have more flexibility with having fun
- Come up with a fun budget
- Have a checking or savings account set up specifically for “fun” expenditures where you can put a little money each month.
- Look for deals – there are many websites that offer discounted restaurants, travel, and activities. My philosophy is never do something without a coupon!
Not Understanding One Another’s Values
As I mentioned earlier, at the Money Coaching Session and Money Workshop at the Capital One Cafe, we really focused a lot on understanding your spouse’s values and where they stem from.
You may go crazy over your spouse who won’t spend a dime. Or perhaps you can’t understand why your spouse always wants to donate money to every GoFundMe account he or she sees.
- One of the exercises we did in the money coaching session involved identifying our values and guessing what our spouse/partner’s values were. We were given a list of probably 30 different values (everything from family to security to spontaneity) and we had to each write down our top five values, and then write down what we thought our spouse’s top five were – then we revealed the answers. It was really interesting to see how different everyone’s values were from one another…and how most everyone guessed the wrong top five for their spouse. This is as great starting point for discussions and understanding one another better.
- Talk about why you spend money (or don’t spend money) the way you do. Obviously, if someone says they just love to spend money and hate looking at budgets…that is a problem. But you can at least dive deeper into why they feel that way and come up with solutions together.
- Engage in active listening as your spouse tells you what it is about money that stresses them out or encourages them. Don’t jump in with your opinion – just listen and then repeat what you heard. Another exercise we did involved this, as well as defending the other person’s position for them. It was rather humbling and eye opening to do this. By stepping into each other’s shoes, you can try and understand things just a little bit better.
This can be something that you both do and don’t even realize it. If you find yourself always coming up a few dollars short, this one is for you…especially if you start blaming each other.
- Come up with a budget (together) and stick to it
- Give yourselves each some “fun” money
- Review your bank statements together and see where you can make cuts
- Use Cash
- Invest in things that can lower your bills – smart thermostats are popular, more energy efficient air conditioning and furnaces….sometimes you really do have to spend a little bit of money to save.
In general, secrets within a marriage often equal disaster. If you are keeping secrets from your spouse in regards to your finances, this is the only advice I can give you:
I’ve read and heard so many stories about individuals concealing bank accounts, credit card statements, or other financial information from their spouse…and that just blows my mind.
In my experience, someone will always find what is hidden, and it will just cause even more contention. No matter how embarrassing or dumb something is…don’t hide it.
There are many ways extended family being involved with your finances can cause problems.
The biggest issue I’ve seen is lending money to family members. While this can be a very generous thing to do, some advice I heard once was, “If you are lending someone money, go into it with the mindset that you probably aren’t getting it back.”
While that’s definitely not always going to be true, I think that you really have to proceed with caution when lending money to family (or friends). If you do this, make sure you and your spouse are on the same page before you offer any up.
Other issues can arise if you choose to discuss your financial situation with your family. While this doesn’t always have to be an issue, I think you should just avoid talking about your finances with your family without your spouse knowing (especially in regards to what they make at their job). I also think it’s wise to avoid discussing your finances and how much you make with your children.
- Don’t discuss finances with anyone other than your spouse (or a financial planner, counselor, etc.)
- Decide early on what you will do if family asks for money
- Separate your finances early on from family- for people who have lived away from their parents for many years, this is probably not a problem. However, if you get married young, you likely have several accounts still connected to your parent’s. Just separate them before you get married in order to avoid any issues in the future.
I hate to even put children on this list, because I don’t believe they are really a “problem” or something to be avoided in your relationship. I also feel that if you wait until you are financially “secure” to have children…you’ll be waiting a long time.
We had Jack when we were in college and on a very limited budget. However, we made it through, and you can too.
Kids cost money. That’s a fact – for at least 18 years, you are responsible for their well-being and care, and that does come with a price tag.
But there are so many ways to make having children less expensive – here are a few of my favorites.
- Determine wants and needs – you don’t need all the latest gear, the trendiest outfits, etc.
- Allow your children to participate in one extracurricular at a time.
- Give your child chores and expect them to help around the house
- Shop at second hand stores for clothes (there are a lot of great ones. Our kids’ wardrobes have almost entirely come from these places)
- If one of you want to stay home after your kids are born, start while you are both working to live on one budget – put one person’s entire paycheck into savings and live off the others.
- Learn to do things yourself – cut hair, make furniture, etc.
- Look for deals and free family fun where you live!
- Decide early on how you plan to financially support your child – including whether or not helping them pay for college is important to you.
I think that the biggest thing is this when it comes to all these issues:
Don’t Set Yourself Up for Disaster
This starts before you even get married.
It can be tempting to go all out, max the credit cards, and spend all your savings on your wedding.
However, it’s so important to have a budget and stick to it. Remember that while it’s one of the most important days of your life, having to live with the debts of a lavish wedding can make that marriage start off on the wrong foot.
I just think it’s important to always be careful about financial decisions – when you are in a marriage, you need to be able to have an open relationship with one another about money.
But even then, starting on the right foot happens long before you say, “I do.” No matter what stage you are in, get yourself on the right financial path to make your future a little brighter.