As a pastoral counselor, I’ve worked with dozens of couples who want to stop fighting over money. Unfortunately, money and sex are the two biggest conflict areas in marriage–often stated as the reason for divorce.
But it doesn’t have to be that way!
Based on my experience and the great teaching of people like Dave Ramsey as well as material in the Prepare-Enrich marriage program, here are some tips I’ve compiled to help couples draw closer regarding finances, not pull further apart:
- There’s no such thing as “my money,” only “our money.” While it is good to have discretionary cash for each of you to spend (see point 6 below), thinking in terms of “my money” versus “your money,” doesn’t work and frankly, is a false paradigm. Whether it’s the IRS, the credit card company, or your bank–everyone else will see a debt incurred by either of you as a joint responsibility. Since the entire world sees it as your collective earnings or debt, why don’t you choose to see it that way also? Having a single budget with a total income and a total expense balance makes more sense and leads to more peace than having separate bank accounts, budgets, expenses, etc.
- Use a budget worksheet. In my book, “The Crucified Couple,” I’ve got a chapter on finances and a sample worksheet in the appendix. Here’s a link for more information: CRUCIFIED COUPLE BOOK. Having a unified and often reviewed worksheet will help you avoid a lot of trouble while pursuing common goals together.
- Communication is the key. This leads well to the most important factor of all–good communication. If you can’t share openly, reflectively listen, and resolve conflict in a healthy way, no marriage book or counselor will be able to help you find or maintain financial peace! This is another area covered at length in my book as well as in posts on this site as well.
- Let the most gifted partner manage. Some couples struggle financially simply because of pride. If you’re not gifted at math and/or accounting, but your partner is–let them handle the checkbook! This doesn’t mean you are “out of the loop.” Communicating regularly about your financial state is critical. Still, the day-to-day paying of bills and reconciling of statements should be done by the most capable partner.
- Make sure both of you have some discretionary cash. As mentioned above, it’s good for each of you to have “blow money.” Money you use for whatever you individually wish/see fit. The amount should be budgeted and maintained though so that you don’t incur debt or miss important payments.
- Use the debt snowball to get out of debt…and stay that way! Dave Ramsey’s method found in his book, “Total Money Makeover,” (which you can learn about HERE), Dave talks about a method of paying off debt starting with the smallest amount owed and working toward the larger amounts one step at a time, while making the minimum payments on each monthly. So if I’m making a $30 minimum payment on a $500 debt and a $50 on a $1,000 debt. I’d pay off the $500 first and then apply that $30 to the “snowball” until the $1,000 is gone. Again, I highly recommend Dave’s book to understand and implement this. You can learn more HERE.
- Let financial priorities be based on goals you set together. Too many couples are in what I call “financial survival mode.” Even if it’s just a few dollars a month, money should be set-aside to meet future goals including travel, retirement, or other dreams. Dreams become goals when you set an amount and start saving for it. Build your budget around those goals and be encouraged by each small step of progress.
My prayer for you is that you’d be richly blessed and that you will draw closer to your spouse as you implement these steps and work together to make finances a blessing, not a source of stress!
To that end,