If you are married, there’s one word that will send shivers down your spine, no matter who you are. Yes, it’s the “D” word, divorce. They are never welcome events, are always gut wrenching, and cause a lot of pain. It makes sense that couples should work together to improve their marriages on a regular basis before any major problems arise so that the “D” word never enters your vocabulary. Since money fights and money problems are the number one cause of divorce today, why not start proactively working on your relationship by getting on the same page when it comes to money?
Before I continue, it should most certainly be noted that this guide is being written from a Christian perspective. Marriage is an institution created by God, and it makes sense that the Church and the Bible should be listened to when it comes to your marriage. If you’re not a Christian, you probably won’t agree with all of the advice that I have to offer, but I genuinely do believe that my advice will be good for you and your marriage.
When you got married, the pastor said, “and now you are one.” He did not say “and now you are one, except for your money, that’s different.” Everything that is the husbands should be his wives as well. Everything that is the wives should also be the husbands. It doesn’t make sense to have separate finances. Having joint finances will allow you to better achieve financial goals, improve your communication skills, and allow you to learn to work together. Personally, I don’t believe that there’s any other way to go.
If you think that having joint finances is the way to go, you’ll need to sit down and have a heart to heart talk with your spouse. Tell him or her that you would like to sit down tonight and talk about finances. Turn off the television, and cut out all of the distractions. Tell them out of a 1 to 10 of importance, this is at least a 9. Tell them that the sexiest thing they could do for you is to work together on your money. This will definitely get their attention. Tell your spouse why you feel that working together on your money is very important to you.
If your spouse agrees to do this, now you two have some work to do. If they don’t, you can only keep loving them and praying for them. Consider talking to your local pastor or a marriage counselor if your spouse is unwilling to get on board. The first thing that you and your spouse need to do is establish some financial goals. What do you want to accomplish with your money? Do you want to save for retirement, pay for the kids college, get rid of the mortgage, or be very generous? You and your spouse need to write down a list of everything you need to do, and then prioritize them.
After you have your list of financial goals, you need a means to achieve it. You already have it, and it’s your income. You just need to make better use of it. You can do this by writing a monthly budget together. Every dollar that goes in is given a category as to where it goes. There are plenty of online budget forms and tips on creating a budget, and you can find those on your own.
If you have joint financial goals and a budget for the month, you are already ahead of 90% of couples. You’re doing great. Don’t spend a dime that wasn’t in your budget, otherwise you are breaking a promise to your spouse. If something in your budget needs to change during the month, have an emergency budget committee meeting and make some changes with your spouse.
If you can do these things, you are doing amazing. It’s certainly not going to be easy, and it’s going to be a lot of work. After all is said and done, you’ll have greatly increased communication in your marriage, and be a joint financial force to be reckoned with.