In Genesis, Moses describes the first married couple as being “one flesh”. This means that they were holistically unified. But if you’re anything like my wife and me, this doesn’t come naturally. Financial oneness is diligently developed step-by-step.
Here are four first steps you have to take together to unify your finances:
Step 1: Combine your bank accounts
I cannot stress this first step enough. Married couples that have separate bank accounts are on different teams. Separate bank accounts will only, ever, always cause disunity in a marriage. So spend time now researching which account(s) both of you will keep and which one(s) both of you will close. Make sure both of you have full access to any and all account(s) that you have. When should you do this? As soon as you tie the knot! It really is that important. Because all of your money is now our money.
Step 2: Make sure all of YOUR money becomes OUR money
You can’t be on the same bank account without also having full access to the rest of your assets. An asset is anything you own. So, that car you love? It’s not just yours now. It’s ours. That retirement account? It’s ours now. This applies in all areas of marriage (except for when my wife wants to eat some of my fries). Make sure to provide full access to all accounts and assets that are in your name: retirement accounts, vehicles, life insurance, your will, etc. All of these are not just yours. They’re ours.
Step 3: Decide how you will kill debt
If you are like the vast majority of Americans you have some sort of debt. When you vowed to love one another for better or for worse that included your finances too. That means you can’t have step number two without step number three. Your debts become our debts in marriage. So that means you both share the blame. But you also both share in the plan and implementation to kill debt and to kill it quickly. Tackle your debt together with the debt snowball method and get to work!
Step 4: Have a financial plan
You need a budget. No one likes the B word. But you need a budget. Don’t think of a budget as the boogeyman. Instead, think of it as a financial plan. A budget is a financial plan that lets Jesus rule your money so it won’t rule you. Once you have a financial plan, decide how you will track your finances (consider using technology like EveryDollar or Mint to help you with this). Once you know how you will track it, decide when you will talk about your finances together. I suggest having an ongoing financial conversation, as well as, setting aside a specific time at the end of each month to talk about your financial plan together. This will help you see how you did, make adjustments, and fine tune your plan for the next month.
Two becoming one financially is hard stuff. It doesn’t come naturally. Trust me! But, be encouraged. This is a process, not a project. The Spirit will be working in your marriage to form you two together more and more until on of you dies or Jesus comes back. Follow these four steps to become unified financially in your marriage.