I remember when I first got married. My husband and I did not have much, but we were “in love.” Money did not seem important back then. Fast forward our lives many years later, add a couple of kids, and money becomes a huge need. And unfortunately for many marriages, money becomes a focus in arguments. Financial arguments in marriages are primarily due to issues with “money management.”
Here are some of my theories on how money becomes an issue in marriages:
1. Not prioritizing how money is being spent. Many couples don’t have a budget, much less realize where all their money goes. In addition, couples fail to see the big picture of their spending. One $3 cup of Starbucks coffee per day equals to $1,095 per year.
2. Lack of financial knowledge. Unless you are working in the financial field, most of us are probably clueless on what to do when it comes to our money and how to properly manage and invest it.
3. Not understanding your relationship with money. Our upbringing, gender and culture influence our views on money. What are some of your views and beliefs about money?
4. Not living within your means. Numbers don’t lie. If you make $100,000 per year, but spend $120,000, you are worse off than someone who makes $30,000 per year, but is able to save 10% of it.
5. No financial reserve. One recent 2009 survey done found that 20% of Americans reported having less than $1,000 in savings. Financial analysts estimate that you need at least 6 months of your monthly income in reserves for a rainy day. The rainy day will come.
Here are some practical tips on addressing money in your marriage:
1. Be honest with each other about your current financial situation. Ask the hard questions, and be ready to listen non-judgmentally. Remember, numbers don’t lie.
2. Write out financial goals. Have the end in mind. What lifestyle do you want to be living when you are at retirement? Then, work backwards in planning how you are going to achieve that.
3. Devise a plan of action. Write out a budget, sit down with your partner and go through all of your incomes and expenditures. Track your daily spending to see where all your money is going. Seek out professional financial help if needed from someone like a financial advisor or banker.
4. Make sacrifices, and learn to say no. Distinguish your needs vs. your wants.
5. Review your financial situation with your partner, at least once a year together. Don’t assume anything.
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’”
“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.”
With money management, its a change in your attitude and perspective. Educate yourself, be open with your partner, and work together as a team to address money issues before it damages your relationship. -Edwina