My husband and I never fight about money.
It just doesn’t happen.
And some may say it’s because he works in finance, so that makes it easy. Of course a financial advisor and his wife shouldn’t fight about his area of expertise!
Valid point. I’ll bite.
But I also believe that when we joined our lives together that summer before our senior year of college, we made some tough but important decisions. We decided to manage our money instead of allowing our money to manage us. We decided to talk openly and honestly about our finances, no matter what. And we decided to tackle it together, as a team.
Now I would never, ever venture to say we have it all figured out, but I would certainly say that our system—which has morphed and evolved over the years to fit our now family of four—has been pretty darn effective.
So in case you and your spouse are in need of a bit of an overhaul, here are a few principles that we stick to in order to maintain a healthy relationship with money—and each other.
Show Me the Money
Budgeting has brought us so much freedom.
It’s funny how that works, finding freedom in boundaries. But it’s true. Every single month we budget out our money. We decide right then and there exactly where each dollar is going to go. We don’t simply track our spending; it’s not helpful to know where our money went after we’ve already spent it. We look at the money we have access to, pull out the funds for all the bills we must pay, then go from there.
It simplifies everything, and it keeps us from stressing over spending more than we made in a month, because, well, we don’t!
Meet in the Middle
It is said that in most relationships, there’s a “saver” and a “spender.”
I’d be more of the spender, and my husband the saver. Yet both of us are willing to meet at a healthy middle ground. By regularly discussing our future goals, which are closely tied to our future finances, we are able to stay on the same page about what we want to spend our money on and how much we’d rather save. And, keeping those future goals in mind, we can always trust that we both have our family’s best interests at heart.
Dirty Little Secret
It’s just my opinion that keeping secrets about money is never a good idea.
Even if it’s a “good” secret, like saving money your spouse didn’t know was coming in for a vacation or a big present, the waters get a bit muddied when it comes to mixing secrets and money. Maintaining open communication is key, and being completely honest about it allows for that strong foundation of trust to be built. Whether you decide to combine bank accounts or keep them separate, the contents of those accounts should never be something to hide from one another.
Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is
This one’s a bit unconventional, but it’s one that is extremely important to both my husband and me: spend money on being together.
It doesn’t matter what that looks like—going out to dinner, staying at a local hotel for the night, or going on a sans-kids vacation. Make it a priority in your finances to set aside money to get away together. It doesn’t have to be a ton of money, and it doesn’t have to be some extravagant thing. Just be together. Whatever it is you enjoy doing together, make it a non-negotiable in your budget. Because money spent on maintaining a strong, healthy marriage is always money well spent.
Well, there you have it: two imperfect peoples’ imperfect way of handling money.
And a reminder that money doesn’t have to be scary. It doesn’t have to be this big, bad monster in marriage. It doesn’t have to be a point of contention.
Start talking. Make baby steps toward meeting in the middle. Always be honest with one another, and make your marriage a financial priority.
It won’t always be easy, but it will be worth it.