My wife and I have not had a money fight for almost five years now. We’ve had discussions and conversations about our finances and our budget, but we have not had a money fight in this time for the reason that we decided five years ago to remove them from our marriage. Let me be clear in this, every couple should and CAN do the same thing. Six months into our marriage, we went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and it changed our young marriage and lives. What this class did was help us to get on the same page about finances, spending and everything that goes along with those areas. We didn’t have a money issue or debt problem, but we knew the statistics on money problems and marriages in this country. We knew that 50% of marriages are ending in divorce now primarily due to money fights and money issues in the home. We wanted to eliminate the glimmer of adding to this stat early on.
I would recommend that all married couples as well as individuals go through FPU or something like it in order to get on the same page about money and to understand how your finances work before they work you. Here are three things that we took away that helped to remove money fights from our marriage.
1. We began to have “budget meetings” and after our first, we had a moment of panic.
When you actually sit down, put a name to every dollar and then look at your past spending and account balances, it can be really scary! Before we had this initial meeting, that we now have the beginning of each month, we said we were not going to fight over our spending and just grow out of it together better informed. Do the same thing. Sit down and look at what you make, what you are spending, and then put a name to every dollar and commit to growing out of this process together.
When we budget, we prioritize bills first, needs second and wants last. We both have things we like to do, but they aren’t top priority. For example, we have allocated a line item in our budget for Clothing. My wife loves to shop, and I love that she has that love. So we made it a priority. We have a certain amount each month for clothing. We also have the Chris Fund and Britt Fund. Each month we have an amount that each of us has that we are allowed to do with in whatever way we want. If I want to go golfing and I have enough in my fund and the time to do so, I can go golfing. This has been huge in our marriage to remove money fights. We know what we are spending.
2. You have to say “No” to a lot of good things.
Practice saying no with me. I’m joking, but truly this is what gets most people in trouble is their inability to say no to things and to people. When you do #1 above, you get better at saying no to many things and many people. It’s tough. It’s really tough. Did I mention that is really freaking tough to say no to your friends or to doing things that you see all the people around you doing? We just planted our feet on the ground and made a pact to say no to things we can’t afford unless we had budgeted or saved for them. Say what you want about it, but I love Dave Ramsey’s motto quote. “Live like no one else, so later you can live like no one else.” This is true. Most people that are buying things like crazy, taking great vacations and everything else are doing them on credit lines. We’ve made a commitment to say no to the things we haven’t budgeted for. When a friend asking us out to dinner, if we have spent the amount in our Entertainment Fund for the month, we say. Once you get good at saying no, it becomes a lot easier. I promise. Just begin to practice.
3. All the bills are OUR bills
When people get married, I’ve noticed this growing trend in people that money remains separate. I’m not sure why this is or what the rational is for many, but one thing that we came to realize in our marriage is all of the bills are our bills together. This is new bills and old bills (credit card balances, car payments, etc) that are all ours together. All that we have is ours together, whether income or expenses. This is a great cause for tension in a marriage, and could have in ours too but we didn’t allow it. I bought a car before we were married that I couldn’t afford that came with a $12,000 finance bill. This wasn’t my car loan. This was our car loan and we both worked hard to get that thing paid off ASAP. ALL the bills are OUR bills.
We aren’t perfect, but these three things have helped us grow greatly in our marriage and helped us to eliminate money fights. We have had to be intentional with our spending and be honest to one another. We have had to be adults in our spending and planning, and this has made it possible to remove money fights.