Our mortgages, our jobs, our kids and even the food we eat as a couple all require money and decisions around how best to use it for the betterment of our family.
Married couples don’t always agree on the best use of the family finances. Without the proper preparation and discussion, these small disagreements can turn into arguments.
Since money fights are a major factor in divorce, it is incumbent on us as married folks to see what we can do limit them and create the relationship we’ve always wanted.
Here are 7 strategies to consider for a happy and wealthy marriage.
Get Clear on Your Goals
Like any challenge in life, if you’re not clear on your goals you won’t understand your progress. You wouldn’t run a race without a finish line, right?
The topic of marriage and money aren’t any different.
That’s why it’s important to define goals that clearly spell out the shared dreams you have in your relationship.
Some marriage and money goals might include:
- Paying off student loans
- Saving up for a car
- Taking a family vacation
- Becoming a stay-at-home parent
- Transitioning to part-time work
Once you define your specific goals, share them with your partner. Find out where you intersect and how partnering together can help you achieve them. Working on a shared goal is a great way to grow your relationship together.
Develop a Family Budget
Just like goals, it’s difficult to make financial progress if you don’t know your current financial situation. That’s where the family budget comes in!
By clearly defining your income and detailed expenses, a huge light will shine on your money situation. It will show you trouble spots, opportunities for improvement and areas you’re already winning together.
Perhaps you’re making a 6-figure income together already, but your spending is out of control. A budget can help you specifically define where you’re spending your money and what areas of adjustment you can agree on as a couple.
Here are some excellent budgeting tools that have helped countless couples take control of their finances:
- Mint: Intuit’s budget solution
- Tiller: Spreadsheet-based system
- YNAB: An envelope-based budgeting system
- Honeyfi: A couple’s budgeting app
You won’t get your budget right on the first or second try, but stick with it because it could massively improve the communication in your marriage.
Decide a Spending Threshold
One marriage and money hack that works for a lot of couples is specifically defining a spending threshold.
For example, if you were planning on spending $200 on a single purchase, do you think that you should contact your spouse to check in beforehand?
How about $50? Not enough to warrant a conversation?
It’s up to you two!
This is an excellent way to eliminate the unnecessary money fights and nitpicking that may occur from our everyday purchases. There’s nothing worse than coming home from the store with a bag in your hand and wondering if you’re going to get berated by your spouse.
On the opposite end, it’s also terrible to not be consulted before your spouse buys a majorly expensive item (car, suit, purse, etc).
First, ensure you’ve defined your monthly budget. Then take some time to decide what that spending limit is for purchases in your marriage. This tip could save you a lot of heartache and avoid some volcanic money fights.
Leave Room for Fun
Defining goals, budgeting and setting limits are not meant to restrict you from having fun. The whole purpose is to give you the freedom to define what fun means for your relationship.
If it’s important for you to travel on an annual family vacation, make that a top priority in your budget.
If getting a coffee daily before work is something that you love doing, include that treat in your plans.
Just like there’s not 25 hours in a day, there’s a limit to the amount of fun we can all afford. Let your goals and your budget define where the fun starts and where it needs to be decreased.
But if your budget becomes all business and no fun, your marriage will suffer. Make sure to leave room for dates, laughter, adventure and romance. You know, the good stuff.
Make Time to Talk
As our careers and businesses grow, our time gets limited. And then we start to have kids and that takes up more of our day. Soon enough, there’s very little time at all for communicating with our spouses.
This is when the money fights really start to come out. Yelling and outbursts appear out of nowhere from feelings we’ve been holding in for months. Unfortunately, we just haven’t had the time to talk.
It’s time to make time.
It may seem odd, but you need to schedule time on your calendar for connecting with your spouse. Just like an important business meeting or doctor’s appointment, these times for connection in marriage are just as important (if not more important).
Use a synched up calendar like Google Calendar or iCal for Apple products and create some dedicated time on your schedule the important marriage conversations. Here’s how to talk about money with your spouse.
Look Internally First
Quite often, we feel that the reason there’s a money fight happening is because of our spouse. “If she would only just do this, then this wouldn’t be a problem! Ahhh!”
That’s the easy route, right? Blame the other person and not look to see how you can help.
Let’s take the tougher route on this one. Examine the situation thoroughly and ask yourself, “What could I be doing to make this situation easier?”
You may find that your ability to meet them in the middle could go a lot further than you think.
Seek Out a Marriage Counselor
If you want to become physically fit, you hire a fitness trainer.
If you want to learn how to play an instrument, you hire a music teacher.
So why is there a stigma around getting professional help when you want your marriage to be better?
A third-party, like a marriage counselor, can help you communicate in ways you never even thought of before. The stress-relief that comes from expressing your emotions, challenges and frustrations in a safe environment can be life changing.
Let’s say there is a money fight that continues to come up again and again. Sessions with a marriage counselor (or financial therapist) will help you explore the root of the issue. You may just find the fight is less about money and more about security, love or a lack of connection.
This type of dedicated time will do wonders for the longevity of your relationship. After all, the best place to invest your money is in your marriage.