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Regular Money Meetings (Frugal Friday)

Consider having regular money meetings with your spouse. They will help your finances, but they can also help your marriage.

Nineteen years ago this month, Fish and I got engaged. The church where we met and married had the requirement that we do four pre-marital counseling sessions, one with each of four different couples. They tackled varying topics: sex, money, personality traits, and a fourth one that I can’t remember.

I can’t remember because that couple never returned our phone calls. Neither did the folks that we paid our $25 for a personality test. Apparently, the pre-marital counseling sessions weren’t that strict of a requirement. The pastor married us anyway.

As it is, I’ll wager that we had the two most important counseling sessions of the lot: sex and money. Seems like today’s world revolves those two, doesn’t it? Talking about money (or sex) with your spouse can be difficult.

Today we’ll just tackle the money part. ;)

Have regular money meetings.

Six years ago when we woke up and smelled the debt, we had an odd relationship with money. I was in charge of paying the bills while hubs was responsible for bringing home the bacon. It made for some interesting dialogue and miscommunications.

Since he was self-employed, his income was always variable. Since I’m a stickler for the rules, I would get frustrated that we couldn’t fit into some finance guru’s estimation of what your monthly expenses should be. They said only 25% should be spent on housing, 10% on food, etc. I became a nag about billing clients, finding more work, etc.

Our numbers never matched perfectly. And since I didn’t know how to make things jive on a variable income, I used that as my excuse not to get our financial house in order.

Then we realized that we were in debt. That we had made some bad decisions. That we really did need to get things in order.

We read/listened to The Total Money Makeover and made some big changes in how we handled our finances. Besides losing the credit cards and scraping together an emergency fund, we started having money meetings.

They were awkward at first. We had to come to terms that we hadn’t made the best decisions with our money. Humble pie doesn’t taste that good, but at least we were sharing a slice.

Our money meetings were nothing extravagant. I took a red spiral notebook and created a monthly financial inventory, like this one, but not so fancy. I jotted down all our assets and liabilities on one side. (At the start it was pretty much all liabilities.) Then on the other side, I listed all the bills and projected expenses we had for the coming month.

  • Together we found a way to create a budget on a variable income.
  • Together we worked and prayed and prioritized.
  • Together we developed techniques to solve our variable income problem.
  • Together we paid off our debts and started saving for the future.

Together.

If you find yourself in financial straits, I cannot urge you strongly enough to find a way to unify as a couple. Because we dug into that Humble Pie together, we fought those feelings of being po’. We grew stronger in our marriage. By talking things through we tackled a seemingly insurmountable mountain of debt and came out on the other side in tact.

If your finances are just fine, I still think it’s important to have a regular money meeting. We used to talk almost weekly about how the numbers were crunching. Now it is less often because our finances aren’t as desperate, but it still encourages us both to talk about where we’re at, to figure out what to do next, to prioritize and plan for the future of our family.

Debt — and more importantly, getting out of debt — brought a beautiful new depth to our marriage.

I didn’t expect that. In fact, I am sure not all marriages fare as well. I don’t take it for granted. But, I am so very thankful.

Do YOU have regular money discussions with your spouse?

Tell us about your situation in the comments.

This is Frugal Friday. In an effort to make these weekly financial discussions more interactive, I’m no longer posting a link-up. Feel free to leave a link. But better yet, chat with us in the comments.

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Comments

  1. Great advice! My husband don’t schedule money meetings, but we checking in with each other often to discuss how our budget is working. We also have a rule that we much make purchase decisions together!

    Recently Posted:
    Tips for Frugal Organization (http://blog.jennimullinix.com/frugal-organizing-tips-thrive-home-link-up/)

  2. Great advice. We don’t do this monthly, but we do make sure to review everything at least once a quarter! My tip today actually goes right along with this topic – it’s a suggestion to clean your desk off every night (and one of the great reasons is so you don’t miss paying any bills because you’ve lost them!): http://behealthybehappywellness.com/2013/01/how-to-be-more-productive-without-spending-a-dime/

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      If I cleaned my desk off every night, I might never lose anything. Good word. I might start that tonight.

  3. I got to thinking a couple weeks ago (due in large part to your post) about all of the financial goals that my husband and I have this year. Instead of one big one like getting out of debt, we have many small ones. Because of this, I thought it might be a good idea to sit down with my husband and really talk it through. I had gone over our budget and came up with a realistic amount that we can put towards those goals each month. When we actually sat down for our little money meething though, I found out that we had some pretty drastic differences in our priorities. Things that I had at the top of my list (saving for braces for our two oldest) hadn’t even occured to him. And his top priority of upping his retirement savings hadn’t crossed my mind. In the end we came up with a plan and hopefully by this time next year we’ll have a new set of goals.

    • So funny how different we tend to be! I can identify with you. :)

    • Cherish, our annual meetings tend to be similar. We sit down to discuss goals, and we find that we have a couple different priorities. Usually, I will come to the meeting prepared with what I think our goals should be (my priorities) with varying ways of meeting them, and then Dh will ask some good questions regarding our financial situation with his priorities in mind. Typically, we then decide on more calculations to run and meet again 24 hours later to finalize. I make it sound clinical, but really these discussions can be somewhat emotionally charged and they work well because we don’t force ourselves to make a final decision during the meeting; we mull the possibilities over during the night and next day.

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      I love to hear those stories. It’s so great when we have a meeting of the minds. Yeah!

  4. My husband and I don’t have regular money meetings but do when there are important decisions to make or when everything (life) is piling up and we need a chance to step back, discuss all of our options, and make a clear decision. Regular meetings are such a good idea. Thank you for sharing what has worked for you.
    My husband, who is a financial counselor, wrote a series on “MONEY MATTERS” over on our blog. Everything from teaching kids about money to truly knowing the difference between needs and wants. Here is a link to all of the posts.
    http://www.cheekybumsblog.com/series/money-matters/

  5. Yes! We meet monthly to look ahead for expenses (like our car that needs new tires, etc) and discuss anything we overspent on the monthly budget. We also meet in December to plan out our yearly financial goals.

  6. Yep! I’m responsible for keeping track of our spending. I use a spreadsheet and send my husband the summary, by category, when I’m done. I try to do this once a month or so. This has worked better than us trying to do it together, and we do talk when it’s completed, but we (fortunately) don’t have to fight about money.

    • Wow I love this idea. I take care of the all the finances in our family. Since my husband owns his own business he says he has enough to worry about without having to care about our family finances too. = (
      So we don’t have meetings. We talk about what expenses are coming up like tires for the car etc. but I am in charge of making everything work. If I sent him a spreadsheet I think this would really get his attention.
      Thanks for the input!

  7. We discuss our finances very casually once a month after my husband has tracked everything for that month. It works quite well for us, although it’s not ideal. And every once in a while we have a net worth discussion, which is also good.

    I’ve been saving a bit of money with the pantry challenge, but have discovered that thinking too much about it makes me do silly things. I’ve written a post, The Psychology of a Pantry Challenge, about it: http://anniekateshomeschoolreviews.com/2013/01/the-psychology-of-a-pantry-challenge/

  8. I’m the family CFO. We tried monthy meetings, but they really should have been called monthly snarkings. So we tweaked our communication system a bit. I review our finances/spending on a weekly basis, and I email my husband an at-a-glance, bare-bones update. That way he knows exactly what shape we’re in, and if he has questions, he asks. This has worked well for us, though I admit I’d prefer a monthly meeting-of-the-minds. But whatever works, right? Great post. Thanks.

  9. We had been doing monthly money meeting, but with the new year started weekly. Doing it weekly means we only need a few minutes and we are so much more on top of things. It’s working great for us!

  10. This is such a great reminder. We go back and forth on who manages the budgeting and bill-paying, though we’re always in communication. We both think it’s critical that either one of us could easily take over should anything (heaven forbid) happen to the other. We’re such finance nerds– and so like-minded on the topic of money– that when we did our pre-marriage counseling, the experienced couples leading the session asked US to teach it. We apparently broke a record for “most compatible” on our screening quiz thing. Still makes me giggle to remember.

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      I knew a lady whose husband was a big finance guy. They had lots of money so she didn’t “have to know.” She never wanted to know, but he got cancer and made her listen. It was odd that she didn’t want to know. But, that may be because it was associated to his illness.

  11. Totally off topic – is that your wedding ring?? Cause my original one looked just like it (I had to replace it after it was stolen (so not accusing you LOL – I know who took it just can’t prove it )).

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      Yes. My hubby got it from George Thompson, “Your Friend in the Diamond Business.” You’re the third person I know of with the same ring. It would be interesting to see how many they made and where they are.

  12. Great post. We don’t have formal meetings to talk about our finances, but we are on the same page as far as financial things go. It probably would be a good idea to sit down and go over the finer details tho. Thanks for the reminder.

  13. I try to have a big pow wow on our finances at least once a month, but my hubby isn’t always into it. We use online software and I make sure that he looks at it at least once a week to see where our budget is and how we are doing on our goals. So we email back and forth a bit about it about once a week.

  14. We are following Dave’s Financial Peace University too! Here is our latest update: http://livinginthegreenblog.com/our-journey-out-of-debt-where-we-are-now/ $25,000 down $15,000 more to go!

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