WHY THIS CONVERSATION MATTERS
Getting good about talking about money in marriage is vital! Think I’m exaggerating? Think again! Money fights are cited as the second leading cause of divorce in America today.
Within marriages, money fights are the most frequently reported regular topic for arguments and disagreeing.
The two main factors that contribute to money fights, communicating poorly and having a hard time getting on the same page about money in marriage are:
- The level of debt your household carries.
- A lack of clear communication between partners
So, what’s the good news? Increased communication leads to decreased debt and fewer money fights! Phew! That’s good to know.
Now… how to we increase and improve communication in our own marriage? I’m SO glad you asked. Read on, my friend!
A LITTLE BACKGROUND DATA
In 2018 a BIG company who loves to study money and marriage did a survey.They asked over 1,000 adults to rate their marriage as “great”, “okay”, or “in crisis” and in that survey they asked them questions about both their financial situation and communication around money within their marriage.
What did they find?
That the individuals who rated their marriage in the “great” category are two times more likely to be talking about money daily or weekly in marriage.
That almost 100% (94%, to be exact) of the “great” marriage respondents discussed their money dreams with their spouse as compared to only 45% of the “ok” or “in crisis” respondents.
Unsurprisingly, but important to note that the higher the household debt burden, the more likelihood there was of arguing within the marriage.
They found that 33% (that’s one in three) of the married adults they surveyed reported intentionally hiding a recent purchase from their spouse!
They concluded that healthy marriages have regular communication about dreams for the future and clarity from conversations about long-term money goals on a regular basis.
Respondents noted that they found money talks, debt, budgeting, and conversations around money with their spouse to be emotional, triggering, and anxiety provoking and noted that they sometimes feel shame around this topic of money, all working together to make it hard to communicate about money.
The bottom line? There are things that you can do to insulate your marriage from money fights! Those things are regular communication, clear short-term and long-term money goals and being intentional about discussing your dreams for the future!
Now that I’ve convinced you that this topic is SO important for you to tackle or tune up in your own marriage, here’s:
HOW TO BETTER COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR SPOUSE
1. Create a System and Schedule for Money Talks
You need a system for communicating with your partner about money. Yes, I know you are busy and yes, you still need to get these meetings, talks, and check ins on the calendar.
Ideally, these talks should happen weekly (short, sweet check-ins), monthly (budget review that is a bit more details), and quarterly (a more involved and comprehensive discussion). Note: these are scheduled meetings about money and should not be happening when an argument is occurring! The best time of day is early on, as studies show that we have better impulse control and make better, calmer decisions earlier in the day before we use up all of our willpower.
If you can swing it, have these meetings when the kids aren’t underfoot and needing your attention. Being able to focus fully on your spouse and this conversation will help them go smoothly and also help you to focus on and absorb what your partner is saying.
This can feel a little overwhelming, especially if you haven’t been consistent or intentional about money talks in the past. Here’s an example schedule of what money meetings might look like (remember to start small and build from where you are to create sustainable change in this area).
Weekly Check-Ins – 10-15 minutes – 1x Weekly
Cover what happened last week: What is going well? What is something we struggled with this past week?
Look forward to the upcoming week: Are there any things on the schedule that require adjustment of the budget? How are you doing with the budget? Are you on track? Does anyone have any concerns or topics they want to discuss?
Monthly Budget Meetings – 30-45 minutes – 1x Monthly
Review Last Months Budget: Did we come in over, under, or right on track? Any impulse purchases that we need to account for? How is our Emergency Fund? Did we have any wins (big or small) that we want to celebrate?
Create & Agree to Budget for This Month: What categories need to be adjusted up or down? When are the bills due? Any unusual expenses? Both partners look at and agree to the budget. You can even initial it if that makes it feel more formal and binding to you.
*Remember, your budget is a flexible document that you can edit at any time throughout the month as needs arise. Make sure that you are communicating with your spouse about how spending is going and make adjustments as you go.*
Quarterly Money Meeting – 1 hour – 4x per Year
Use The Money Meeting Checklist to go into more detail about savings, emergency fund, net worth, debt reduction, retirement and college savings. It can be helpful to gather the information and prep the numbers beforehand so the meeting can be used for discussions.
Check on how each partner is feeling. Do you have a vote and a voice that is being heard and respected? Are we having fun with money? What wins, big or small, can we celebrate this quarter?
All of these meetings total about 16 hours a year. If I told you that the best possible way to avoid divorce was to invest 16 hours a year into salsa dancing, you’d consider that, right? The same is true of managing your money. Money fights are the number one reported argument and the second most common cited reason for divorce (infidelity is #1) and investing 1-1.5 hours per month into intentional communication around money could change that!
2. Both Partners Get: A Vote & To Have Fun!
This is a partnership, your marriage, not a dictatorship. Both partners get a vote and need to take an active role in the managing of your household finances!
You can structure this how works for you – one person can manage the meetings, pay the bills, and create the budget – but the second partner HAS to be involved, kept updated, be in the loop, have responsibilities and have a vote.
Don’t suck all the fun out of it! Include “fun money” or a slush fund for each adult in your partnership – this can be spent on miscellaneous things not included in the budget – and be sure to fund hobbies and FUN things that you like to do one your own, as a couple or as a family
3. Share The Load
If, in your marriage (like *cough cough* in mines) there’s a partner that gets excited by spreadsheets and compound interest and net worth – play to that persons strengths – that person can build the budget, but the other partner is equally responsible for approving and agreeing to the budget. Just be sure the partner who doesn’t love spreadsheets gets a vote, is included and invested!
4. Create Shared Goals and Dreams for Your Financial Future
Every couple should have short and long-term money goals that they both know and are working towards together.
Short-term money goals are those goals that are less than 6 months out – saving the rest of your OMG/Emergency fund, paying off your credit card, saving for furniture, a car or a vacation that is coming soon.
Long-term money goals are those that are going to take you more than 6 months to accomplish – things like becoming completely debt free, paying off your mortgage, having your college funds completely funded or Financial Independence
Dream with money, this is the FUN part about communicating with your spouse about money – dreaming about what things will be like when your kids are in college, when you retire, when you pay off your debt, your mortgage and when you become financially independent!
5. Practice Honesty
Regardless of whether you choose to have combined accounts or you maintain separate accounts or cards – it’s still SO important to communicate about money.
Hiding purchases, being dishonest and not open about balances, purchases and plans erodes the trust that you’ve build within your marriage.
6. Create a Spending Limit
Before you get all excited that this is your partner trying to control you or that you are an adult and you don’t want to be limited by some silly rule, hear me out. Within your marriage, choose a spending limit: a number above which you aren’t going to spend without speaking to your spouse.
This helps to make sure things are in the budget, in alignment with your core values, and not going to prevent you from reaching your money goals. It can also help avoid impulse purchases, just by the simple act of checking in with your partner to make sure they are on board with the purchase.
7. Use The Money Meeting Checklist
Whether you are stuck trying to figure out how to manage your money in partnership, struggling to get on the same page about goals for savings and paying off debt, or you simply avoid the topic of finances at your house altogether, this Money Meeting Checklist is for you!
What does it include?
- Framework for a Money Meeting that facilitates calm and productive financial discussions with your spouse.
- Prompts to ensure both partners get an equal say that is respected in managing the money at your house!
- Checkpoints for moving towards your money goals.
- Prompts to generate conversations about having FUN with the money you worked so hard for!
- A simple method you can put into practice this week to start communicating clearly with your spouse about money!
- The Money Meeting Checklist has step-by-step instructions for how to use it to stop fighting about and start winning with money.
Get the Free Money Meeting Checklist to finally learn what it takes to communicate clearly in your marriage about money and start making decisions together and change your family’s financial future.
Remember – money is personal – you’ve got to find something that works for YOU and YOUR SPOUSE in the unique dynamics of your life!
Rather listen to it? Tune in to Fulfilled – The Podcast BONUS Episode!