Overcoming money issues in your marriage
Many couples struggle to manage their money issues successfully. Some attempt to get better control of their finances, but maybe there isn’t equal commitment to the plan. This can often happen when one is a saver and the other is a spender.
Other couples simply don’t talk about financial goals together, so there is no direction. This often results in living paycheck to paycheck with high debt balances.
Neither of these situations are ideal. So, how can you and your spouse get on the same page with your personal finances?
In this post, I’ll tell you 3 practical steps for how to resolve money issues in marriage and why you might be failing to budget successfully as a couple.
The good news is, it’s totally possible to overcome financial challenges with your spouse.
You might just need to figure out what’s holding you back before you can get motivated to move forward and take control.
Once you identify the roadblocks, the solutions can present themselves clearly.
Here are 3 action steps you can take to learn how to resolve money issues in your marriage and tackle your finances together.
1. Be intentional with communication
Lack of communication is a common problem in marriages, but when it comes to finances, there can be serious and lasting consequences.
Money conflicts in marriage add additional stress to the relationship. Stress can lead to a breakdown in communication, which can result in a lack of trust. Once trust is broken, divorce becomes a looming threat.
This is why money issues are one of the top reasons for divorce in America.
When one spouse is a saver and the other a spender, productive money talks usually don’t happen naturally. So, it’s crucial that you are both intentional about creating ongoing discussions about your personal finances together.
If neither you nor your spouse are initiating conversations about how to improve your money management, I encourage you to make the first move.
Open up a conversation that supports your efforts as a team. Money talk can be stressful and frustrating, especially if your partner has very different ideas about how to handle finances.
Even Dave Ramsey teaches in his financial courses that, in a marriage, one is usually a “nerd” who wants to save, and the other is a “free spirit” who doesn’t. I guess it’s part of the law that opposites attract.
The important thing to remember is that each person has strengths to contribute, and when both partners operate in them, the marriage is stronger for it.
If your partner is simply not interested in talking, he might just feel uncomfortable. Don’t give up. Keep bringing up the subject, telling your partner your thoughts about money management and the benefits of budgeting.
Be patient and extend grace. It may take time for your spouse to come around and see your perspective.
And, even if your partner never hops on the budget wagon, you can do your part. Start tracking your spending, set up budget categories, put some aside for savings. You can still make a difference and see progress.
Who knows, maybe it’s the progress that will win him over.
The important thing is to open up the lines of communication so you each know what the other values and you can find a way to work together.
(If you feel you’ve exhausted your attempts to communicate with your spouse, I highly recommend marital counseling.)
2. Create financial goals together
If you don’t have financial goals you share with each other, you can stay stuck in the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle and never experience financial freedom.
Tools like a budget, a debt payoff plan, and a retirement fund can help you reach your financial goals. But, if you don’t have any goals, then there is little motivation to apply these tools to improve your finances.
Spend some time thinking about what you’d like to accomplish with your money.
Maybe you simply want to live within your income and not overspend. This goal can motivate you to watch a budget closely and limit spending so you’re not dipping into your savings.
Or, maybe you really want to apply more money towards debt. If you’re already strapped, this might mean you’ll need to cut expenses or figure out how to increase your income.
One way to start talking about money together is by sharing your dreams with each other.
- Do you want to travel?
- Do you want to start a business?
- Do you want to build your dream home big enough to hold all of your grandkids?
- Do you want to go on mission trips to other countries?
Most big dreams require some monetary investment and/or sacrifice. You can’t continue to hope your dreams will come true without having clear financial goals to get you there.
Start with the end in mind, and let your dreams motivate the goals you set together. Your shared financial goals will help you be more united in your finances, and will inspire you to make better money decisions together.
Related post: 15 Financial Goals To Start With
3. Hold each other accountable
You might feel a lot of frustration if your spouse is a spender and doesn’t seem to care about saving.
But do you ever think about how you’d feel if he did care? What if he was asking you about the money you’re spending?
It’s easy to point the finger when you feel like you’re on the right side of money management. Holding someone else accountable is easy.
But if your spouse was pointing out your overspending, how would that make you feel?
Not being intentional with your finances means nobody is accountable. You just spend what you want, when you want, until it runs out.
But, if you want to resolve money issues in your marriage, you *both* have to stay within the boundaries you agree on.
It’s easy to point out the other’s shortcomings and blame your spouse for overspending. But, you’re probably no perfect budget keeper either. (You might just get away with it because he doesn’t pay attention.)
And, if you’re perfectly honest, you might admit that you think what you spend money on is more important than what he spends money on.
The fear of accountability could possibly be a reason why you’re not dealing with the money issues in your marriage. Maybe you enjoy the freedom to spend money without having to answer to anybody. And it’s tough to let that go.
If you want to stick to a budget as a couple and improve your finances together, you both need to be held accountable.
If you’re intentional about having positive conversations about money, and you share common financial goals, then accountability should be a natural part of your money management.
But, if you find that poor choices are often overlooked or not addressed, be sure to bring this up with your spouse. Admit that you’re not perfect with money, and invite him to hold you responsible for making financial decisions that serve your common goals. Then, be sure to hold him accountable when necessary as well.
Related post: A Willingness To Change: Here’s the How and the Why
When you know better, you do better
That’s actually one of my favorite quotes, spoken by the late Maya Angelou.
Hindsight is 20/20. It’s easy to look back and see where you messed up. We all have a tendency to be hard on ourselves for not making better decisions in the past.
But it’s important to give our younger selves extra grace because life can be complicated and hard to figure out.
Sometimes we don’t know better until we learn from the mistakes we’ve made.
If you want to learn how to resolve stressful money issues in your own marriage, these three practices can help you and your spouse get on the same page, and start achieving your financial goals together.
Don’t focus too much on how you failed these areas in the past. Instead, just keep trying to learn and grow and become a better steward of your shared finances.
Commit to intentional communication, financial goals, and accountability. Then you can move forward knowing better, and doing better.
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