Could A Money Plan Save Your Marriage?
The saying goes “money is the root of all evil.” Yes, we all know it’s more complex than a simple saying, but disagreements over money are at the root of a lot of marital troubles. I have had many clients complain about their spouse that has a spending problem, refuses to pay credit cards on time, or just has different beliefs about how to handle money. Sadly, some feel the only way to protect their own finances is through divorce.
While having someone hurdle you into thousands of dollars of debt can feel like you are being attacked, the way to protect yourself from being blindsided by your spouse’s spending is to have open communication about your family’s money plan. And this certainly doesn’t come easy for all couples. The case for some is that they would have to skip paying a household bill or an existing debt payment to cover a $400 emergency. So, for some, starting and maintaining a household budget with a cushion for emergencies has proven to be quite the task.
Take Charge of Your Finances
To start this communication about your money plan, look at your income and your expenses. Get a clear understanding of what you both are spending and how it compares to your income. Knowing this is half the battle. If you are part of that group that would have to skip paying a bill, set a small starting goal for your emergency fund, and put a small amount aside each month until you reach that goal. Also remember to include a little in your budget for each of you to spend with no questions asked. You are both adults and no one wants to have to ask permission for every penny spent. The most important thing is for you and your spouse to be in agreeance.
Planning is the Path to Financial Harmony
While you are on this journey, keep in mind that the purpose of your money plan, or budget, is not meant to be a punishment. It’s in place so you both know what the plan is ahead of time and are on the same page about how you want your family finances to look. It’s the start to being in a place where you do what you want with your money instead of what you have to. Have one Saturday morning a month where you spend 30 to 45 minutes updating your checkbook, updating items into your budget app, and discussing cash flow/budget items together. This fosters open communication and planning. If it’s on the calendar, it shouldn’t take either of you by surprise!
So, I always ask couples with money issues, “If these issues were cleared up, would you still want to divorce?” Sure, the answer is still many times “yes, that’s only part of our issues.” However, occasionally the answer is no, and if having a money plan could help the answer to be “no,” it’s worth its weight in gold. Things just may work out if they could agree on how to handle the money.