Erase the Marriage Money Arguments

Brad says…
Money and Marriage often go together like peas and ice cream.  All too often money issues are just one more item in the list of things that starts arguments.  One person can’t believe that it is possible to spend $45 on a pair of jeans, while another thinks it is outrageous to buy the latest and greatest gadget for $600.  Spender, saver, avoider, or controller regardless of the personality every couple needs to deal with the often contentious topic of money. It is very difficult to feel close and connected to your spouse if you have a screaming match about money once a month.  Erasing the argument is key to allowing your marriage to grow. 

A bit of self disclosure here, finances have not always been roses here in our household. There have been times in our marriage that each month would end with the checkbook empty and the two of us arguing about where it all went.  It took us quite a long time, and a lot of grace to get us to a place where finances no longer created arguments.   Did we win the lottery? No.  Do we have everything figured out?  No. What changed was that Kate and I realized that are on the same team. 
That is a really important point, so I’ll say it again, we are on the same team.  We have learned that money coming in and going out is all our money, not my spending and her spending, it is ours!  Thinking about us, on the same team was a big step toward erasing the arguments about money. We have adjusted our perspectives, adjusted our spending and established some basic guidelines to help us communicate. 
Try following these 5 principles and see if they can erase your money arguments too.      

                

Who’s is Who’s
I know couples who monthly argue about how to split up the bills, and who should pay what. “I had to pay for the car repair so you have to pay more on the mortgage this month!”  Sound familiar?  I hope not.  This type of financial arrangement is for roommates not for married couples, especially not married couples seeking to grown in their intimacy. You will always have money arguments when the money is separated.  I put this principle first because I don’t think any of the rest are even possible when you have separate accounts.  Stop acting financially single, the marriage happened to your checkbooks too! 
Principle: Erase the argument by understanding that all money coming in is family money – all money going out is family spending.  The only question becomes one of priority.
Know what is coming and what is going:
Each of you should have a good working knowledge of the amount of money coming in, the amount going out and its destination.  Do you both have to sit down every month to pay the bills together?  Maybe at first, Kate and I did for a while, but we don’t anymore.  The idea is that either person should have the ability and interest to go and look around at the finances once in a while.  There are two reasons for this:  One, If each of you are making purchases, you each need to know if you have money in the budget to make the purchase.  Secondly, and more importantly, knowledge brings accountability.  No one should be able to spend above the spending limit without attracting attention. 
Principle:  Erase the argument with knowledge of where all the money is going.
Have a spending limit
Let’s be honest, we all do it spend some amount of money on the splurge we really want.  These indulgences are fine to a point.  Every couple needs to have a dollar figure that can be spent in these “treat me”  times without first checking with the other person.  How much depends on your budget.  Many couples have a no spending $100 without me knowing type rule.  That can work but I think it is a good idea to have a unbudgeted spending limit and a budgeted spending limit. For us if we are spending anywhere near $100 on unbudgeted splurge items we are going to have budget issues. 
Principle: Erase the argument by knowing the limits, but give some wiggle room for the splurge cup of coffee, or book.  But only what the budget can allow.
Honesty
According to an MSN study nearly 1 in 3 people have lied to their spouse about finances, usually about spending.  Honesty is key to stopping the arguments.  No hiding shopping bags, no secret credit cards. 
Often we hide because we have either overspent, are concerned that our spouse will not understand the need for the item, or both.  Here is where a good conversation needs to take place.  Understanding that spending personalities differ from person to person is important.  There are benefits and consequences to all spending personalities.  If you are a spender and are hiding purchases because your spouse is a saver, it is time to come clean and honestly look at your overspending patterns!  If you are a saver and your spouse is hiding purchases from you, you might need to look at the rigidity of your saving habits. 
Principle:  Erase the argument tell the truth, and learn why you are tempted to lie in the first place.
Budget
Oooo the dreaded B word.  Yep, it is a challenge for many couples, but if you are arguing about money it is something you need to consider.  There are many different types of budgets, and finding the one that worked for us was a key for Kate and I.  The benefits of a budget are two-fold:  First, knowing how much money you will need to meet fixed obligations will help you spend less in the flexible areas and make sure you have enough left over.  But this is only the most obvious benefit of a good budget.  Once you have been using a budget for awhile the more subtle, yet more important benefit comes to light.  Knowing just where your money is going is critical to changing spending habits.  The banks record of all those coffee breaks at Starbucks can sure be eye opening after a few months of seeing them add up.   
Principle: Erase the argument by starting a budget and keeping talking about it on a regular basis. 
That’s it, that is what Kate and I did to erase the arguments, once we started communicating all kinds of solutions have presented themselves.  Amazing how communication works that way! 

Have you been able to chance the financial arguments in your marriage? 
Tell us in the comments how you did it!

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3 Responses to Erase the Marriage Money Arguments

  1. When we were engaged, we opened a joint checking account. Our then small group leader, who was doing premarital counseling with us, praised us for taking this step. Its not my paycheck and his paycheck, its our income. Plus, we each have "play  money" that changes as the income changes. When we were both working it was more than now, when I'm home full time and only Hubby is working. 

    We did have some disagreements are the front end, when we used the same word, "saving", but had different ideas about what it meant. We finally defined the word together and realized we wanted the same thing, we were just using different words for it.

  2. Hi Rachel!  Thanks so much for sharing!  I praise God that you and your hubby have worked hard in this area and are finding great blessings of doing so!  Keep seeking Him and His will for your marriage!  He wants to use all of us in very amazing, unique ways!  We were all meant for greatness in Him!  Blessings, Kate

  3. Any time my wife spent too much money on her nails and hair weave, I just made sure that she compromised and didn't get a pedicure. She ended up with her feet looking like brillo pads, but at least we didn't argue anymore about money. Praise the Lord!