Up until you said, “I do,” you probably didn’t have too many conversations about money with your future spouse. You are not alone. Many couples enter into marriage without ever discussing finances. Prior to marriage, the way you handled and viewed money didn’t directly impact your spouse.
But now you are married. And everything is different.
Some couples do well with the shift, but there are many couples that struggle. Whether recently married or celebrating a thirtieth anniversary, what are some common mistakes couples make, and how can you avoid them? Let’s consider five missteps.
1. Assuming both has the same money personality.
We often act like our spouse has, or should have, similar thoughts and reactions toward money as our own. But this is not often the case. Your natural personality, combined with your past money experiences, shaped your own money personality. And your spouse’s too.
When we assume similar money personalities, we get frustrated with our spouse and their money preferences and decision-making. However, if we recognize that their money personality is different from are own, we can develop empathy. And when we start with empathy, arguments are diffused before they ever start.
The Marriage Challenge identifies four money personalities—Spender, Saver, Investor, and Ignorer. All have their strengths and weaknesses. Grab some coffee and learn your spouse’s money personality. Understanding their money personality will help you to better understand their perspective and give you empathy.
2. Dream separate dreams.
Imagine this scenario: It is the first day of vacation. You and your spouse get into the car. The engine starts, but there is a problem. You never discussed the destination. You like the beach so you start driving toward the beach. But your spouse want to go to the mountains. What happens? Probably, an argument. But such a scenario is unlikely, right?
We would never start on such a journey without first discussing and agreeing upon the destination. Yet, we do this all the time with our finances. When couples chase different financial goals, they individually make financial decisions that may injure the ability to reach one of the goals. And that’s frustrating.
Sit down with your spouse and dream together. Agree upon the financial goals you desire to achieve. Stay on the same page throughout your financial journey.
3. Make separate money decisions.
Agreed upon dreams are important. But agreed upon dreams are worthless without agreed upon actions and guidelines.
God’s design for marriage includes oneness—two previously separate units unite as one. Unfortunately, many couples decide to limit their oneness when it comes to their finances. The terms my and your are used in money conversations. Mymoney. Your money. When this happens, it’s no surprise that decisions about money remain separate instead of united.
Making money decisions without the input of your spouse can lead to relational stress and an inability to reach financial goals. Managing money tends to feel more chaotic than structured, more frustrating than heartening. Achieving financial goals happens more easily when couples make money decisions together, when my and your are replaced with our.
As a couple, make financial decisions together. Agree upon the actions, the day-to-day decisions, and guidelines that need to take place in order to achieve your financial dreams.
4. Not having a budget.
If you underestimate the power of a budget, you are not alone. Many couples do. But they also miss out on a strategic tool for financial health.
Your budget is your plan. Your budget provides a guide for you to follow. Your budget helps you strategize how to give generously, save wisely, and live appropriately. It is helps you turn dreams into reality.
Set up a regular time to create and review your budget. Meet, at least, monthly. It doesn’t have to take a ton of time, especially when you are simply reviewing the budget. Make achieving goals the primary focus on the conversation. This will help you consider the big picture, even when discussing the details of your financial picture.
5. Putting kids first.
I know. You love your kids. You would do anything for your kids. And while this desire is good, the practice of always placing your kids first can have negative financial and marital ramifications.
Frequently, parents will sacrifice their retirement savings to put their children through college. But this understandable desire to sacrifice hurts both the parents and their children. College expenses may be covered, but the parents’ retirement is not. And when parents find themselves with little retirement, they often require the financial support of their children. Their gift becomes a future burden.
Good intentions can result in bad finances. From a financial standpoint, one of the best ways to take care of your children is to take care of yourself. Unnecessarily eroding your current and future financial health may place a future financial burden on your children. Love your children by taking care of your finances.
Money doesn’t have to wreak havoc on a marriage. If fact, it can bring about unity. The Marriage Challenge: A Finance Guide for Married Couples take couples on a journey to discovering God’s design for their marriage and their money.
Let your marriage and how you care for your finances be characterized by oneness. Get on the same financial page, and avoid these common mistakes. Your finances and your marriage will benefit from it.