In our work with couples, we’ve found that one of the top things that couples fight about (next to sex and parenting) is finances. Finances cause stress and strain on marriages and are a strong contributor to the divorce rates in our country. So how do we have a conversation about finances without arguing?
We talked to our friends Amanda and Jonathan Teixeira of WalletWin and learned that it comes down to 3 major things.
We all have a past and upbringing that’s different than our spouse. We were raised in different environments so we’re bound to have different ideas about how to spend and save money.
For example, you may have been raised with a strict 10% tithing rule while your spouse doesn’t understand why you shouldn’t just put a $20 in the basket every week.
The first key to having productive financial conversations is to get on the same side of the table as your spouse. You’re a family unit and the finances are a shared responsibility. So sit down with a glass of wine and talk about what you think about money.
Talk about how your parents handled money and what you think about topics like tithing, saving for retirement, credit card use, debt, emergency funds and budgeting. Don’t bring your own finances into the conversation yet – just bring your own perceptions to the table. Be open to hearing your spouse’s point of view.
Be sure to avoid shaming and blaming your spouse for their spending habits and perceptions about money. You each have different views and can change some unhealthy ones. Be open to that change! And remember: you’re having these conversations out of a desire to love your spouse and family better!
Once you understand where you and your spouse come from in finances and are on the same side of the table somewhat, discernment comes in.
The Lord calls us to be fruitful and wants our greatest good. Money is a tool in that journey and can be a powerful one for both good and evil. Our money should support maximum fruitfulness for our families. What does that mean?
Simply put, money supports our ability to live out our vocation, to live our best life and to give glory to God along the way.
This looks different for every family. So, after you’ve been able to hear how your spouse views money and have shared your views, dream a little!
What are the things you’d like to do as a family? What goals do you have for one year, 5 years and 10 years? Are there urgent needs to address?
Maybe you’d like to spend more time as a family. For some, that might mean picking up an extra few hours of work to save for a family vacation. For others, that might mean cutting back on working hours to have more time to spend at home on a regular basis.
In the end, this step is all about assessing the needs and desires of your family in light of your relationships with each other and the Lord, while taking your income into account.
Note: We talk about this in our Family Board Meeting course, which you can check out here.
Finally, you should take concrete steps to make these conversations a reality!
Without shaming or blaming each other, take a hard look at your spending over the last 3 months. Do you see some trends? Do you tend to overspend in one area? How much did you spend in general categories like eating out and groceries?
Remember to default to the idea that your spouse loves you and isn’t blaming you for spending too much on groceries or clothes. And keep that in mind when you’re looking at how much he spent on his truck too!
The outcome of this conversation should be to make a budget and give every dollar you make a job. If you have big goals like saving for an emergency fund or a family vacation, make them a priority! Then, make a commitment to stick to it!
We haven’t always been the greatest at managing our money. It was somewhat a foreign to us when we first got married, which is very common to many newly married couples. The best thing to do is start to manage your money intentionally now. As your children grow, your budget just gets more complicated!
Having conversations with your spouse about finances without arguing isn’t always easy. But if you’re committed to getting on the same side of the table, approaching the conversation with love and seeking maximum fruitfulness for your family, we’re sure you can have a great and productive conversation.
If you’re interested in working with Jonathan and Amanda Teixeira, you can get in touch with them and check out their course on their website.