Yesterday was mine and Danny’s 10th wedding anniversary. We’ve learned a lot of money lessons in our quick 10 years together, some the hard way. Two things I love about Danny is that he is constantly giving me grace and is also mind blowingly supportive of me, and that includes when it comes to our finances. He’s the type of person that builds you up rather than tears you down and when I make mistakes, he expresses his feelings but then forgives quickly. I don’t really know why he’s stuck it out with me the last decade, but he really is my dream boat. He’s just so easy to be married to. That being said, we’ve had our share of money issues, not the least of which being $650,000 in debt. Statistically, money is one of the biggest stressors on a marriage, and is the second leading reason behind divorce. Yikes. So, here are important money lessons from marriage that we’ve learned over the last decade. Share them with your spouse and make money something that strengthens your marriage, rather than causes stress to it.
IMPORTANT MONEY LESSONS FROM MARRIAGE
(1) DON’T FOCUS ON CHANGING YOUR SPOUSE.
One of the most important money lessons from marriage is to NOT focus on changing your spouse. You can change yourself if that needs changing, but you definitely should not spend time and energy focused on changing your spouse. The reason is simple. You cannot change your spouse. When you are focused on trying to get them to change, you’re going to be disappointed and likely end up more stressed about money. Focus on what YOU can do to better your financial situation.
(2) TALK ABOUT MONEY.
Spouses should talk bout money. A lot. And preferably nicely. Lots of couples spend dedicated time to talking about money, reviewing bills and spending, and goal setting. It’s up to you and your spouse how you do this, whether you want to have a dedicated time and place for this frequent conversation or whether you naturally work it into your conversations with each other. But the bottom line is, you should be talking about money with your spouse. There shouldn’t be any spending or aspects of your finances that you both aren’t on the same page about. I had a close friend who once told me that her husband would routinely tell her which credit card to use or not use, but that was all she knew about their money. She honestly did not know what their income was, whether they had investments, how many bank accounts they had, etc. This couple was not remotely on the same page about money and in the end, weren’t on the same page about life and sadly got divorced. You can imagine how her ignorance regarding their finances served her in their divorce proceedings. Don’t get me wrong here– I’m not saying that you should both know all aspects of your finances so that you can get what’s yours if things go south in your relationship. What I’m saying is that both spouses should be on the same page in all aspects of your marriage including (maybe especially) finances.
(3) MAKE IMPORTANT FINANCIAL DECISIONS TOGETHER.
Talking about money will hopefully alleviate this problem as well, but spouses should make important financial decisions together (and conversely, not sweat the small stuff– you shouldn’t have to micromanage every single tiny decision your spouse makes about money, but we’ll get into that next). I had a friend who brought home a brand new truck to his spouse without having any sort of conversation about it. She was, understandably, not thrilled to say the least. They could afford it so he didn’t think it was a big deal. She didn’t like that she was not included in a big financial decision. Just don’t do stuff like this to your spouse. Chat about big decisions first.
(4) DON’T MICROMANAGE EACH OTHER.
Probably the most important money lesson from marriage that I’ve learned and struggled with over the years is not to micromanage my spouse’s spending. You can get on the same page with what your goals are and review those goals together, but if you are freaking out every time your spouse spends $1, they are going to resent you and it is going to strain your marriage. Allow your spouse to be their own person. If you are talking about money in a big picture way, you don’t need to micromanage them.
And while you shouldn’t micromanage your spouse, you should both be accountable for your spending. We review our spending once a week (sometimes once a month) but we track where every single dollar went. I feel bad if I spent too much on something that I perceive as selfish, and so does my spouse. This helps us keep our spending in check going forward, since our goal right now is to get out of debt. Both spouses should know about all bank accounts and shouldn’t hide any spending from each other.
(6) LEARN THE INS AND OUTS OF YOUR MONEY TOGETHER.
Both spouses should learn the ins and outs of your money together. How much income is coming in? What are your expenses? Do you know where your money is going each month? Do you both know where you want it to go? Take time to learn about getting out of debt and meeting other financial goals together.
(7) SET MONEY GOALS TOGETHER.
Spouses should set money goals together so that you can be on the same page with what you are doing with your money. Do you want a family boat? Or save up for a dream home? Are you interested in passive income streams? What money goals do you have?
A budget is an essential part of success when it comes to family finances. That being said, your budget can be whatever you want it to be. If you aren’t an excel/spread sheet person, consider alternatives like setting a goal to spend under $3000 per month, or whatever your income allows. (Read about the easiest budgeting method ever here). It doesn’t have to be complicated (unless you are both into that) but it does have to exist, so take time to figure out a budget that works for both of you.
(9) USE THE GOLDEN RULE.
When it comes to money lessons from marriage, remember to treat your spouse as you want to be treated. If you wouldn’t want to be nagged all the time, don’t nag your spouse. If you don’t want your spouse to go off the deep end with crazy overspending, don’t do that yourself. Think of your spouse when it comes to your money and you can’t go wrong.
(10) AVOID DEBT THAT ISN’T ATTACHED TO ASSETS.
One of my all time favorite money lessons from marriage that I’ve learned is that you should avoid debt that isn’t attached to assets. Right now our goal is to get out of student loan debt so we are aggressively making extra payments to our student loans since our student loans don’t bring us in any income each month. We aren’t currently aggressively paying off our loan on our dental practice because our dental practice enables us to earn an income (in other words, it’s attached to an asset). We avoid things like car loans and other debt that isn’t attached to assets. Because debt equates to more stress on a marriage and that’s the last thing you need.
For the comments: what are some of the most important money lessons from marriage that you’ve learned? Drop a comment low.
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