I strongly believe that one major key to a happy marriage or long-term relationship is to be on the same page financially.
Financial goals usually run deeper than black or red ink. They tend to spill over into your value set and how willing you are to compromise and work together as a team.
That’s why it’s usually best to set those goals and get on the same page BEFORE you make a long-term commitment like marriage.
However, that’s easier said than done. Love runs deeper than financials, naturally. And even if you start out with the same financial goals, values change over the course of your life. You may have been lock-step with your partner when you were married, but once kids come into play, salary changes, life situations, and the ticking away of time – your perspectives can change.
A Reader Runs Into Financial Value Issues with her Husband
A new reader to 20somethingfinance.com emailed me the other day with this plea for help:
“I just subscribed because I desperately want a simpler life and financial scenario. But what if my future husband does not appear to have the same goals? I am the breadwinner, so I’m trying to bully my way to these goals, but it hurts that I have to push this hard on my man. Any suggestions?”
I feel the reader’s frustration and pain. I’ve seen so many relationships turn south due to different values around money.
So far, I’ve been lucky enough to not run into this problem in my marriage. My wife and I share a common vision of working towards financial freedom so that we can spend more time living the life we want to live. As a result, we’ve made a lot of decisions that others might deem as sacrifices – we sold one of our two cars (and the other is paid for), we have cheap prepaid cell plans through Net 10, we don’t buy any of the latest tech gadgets, we rarely dine out, we paid off our debts, we’ve sold a lot of stuff online, etc.
I want to gather reader feedback, but I first have a few suggestions for the reader and anyone else who is running into this important issue.
Share Financial Responsibility with your Partner
A friend of mine recently told me, “Our financial situation vastly improved once I turned over the finances to my wife.” He said that before he did this he was in control of all the bills and she did not see what was coming in and going out. Her spending was out of control. Giving her that responsibility had a drastic impact on their financial situation. This is a counter-intuitive strategy that can have associated risks, but I think it’s a great idea worth trying out.
If you haven’t worked on a budget together, do it! Here’s a budgeting spreadsheet to get you started. (note: log in to your Google account to make and save a copy so that you can edit)
Discuss your Long-Term Life Vision & How Money Relates to it
Spending money on things you don’t need is a short-term impulsive action. In order to trump it, you need to have a long-term vision. Sit down with your significant other and come to an agreement on what that vision looks like.
Create a Mandatory Spending Cap
Try to get in the habit of making financial decisions together as a team. Create a mandatory spending cap of somewhere around $25. Any individual purchase above this amount needs to be agreed upon together. If you can’t agree, fall back on the long-term vision that you set together.
Discussion: How Have you Overcome Financial Obstacles in your Marriage/Relationship?
I might not be the best person to help the reader out because I’ve always shared the same vision and spending habits with my wife. That’s why I’m turning to readers who have been challenged by this:
- What financial challenges have you faced in your relationship?
- How did you overcome financial differences in your relationship?
- What specific techniques allowed you to get on the same page financially?
- Was it a gradual change or did you/they have a big ‘a-ha’ moment?