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.
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.