The Best Financial Advice for Couples

Find out the best way to get your partner on the same page with money!

Say what you mean, but don’t say it mean – Andrew Wachter

How often have you heard, “it’s not what you say, but how you say it?”  I can remember several times when my “tone” has gotten me in trouble.  Intentional or not, our communication skills, or lack thereof, are responsible for a vast majority of our financial relationship issues.  Often our communication issues come down to a lack of time to properly communicate.  We find ourselves getting a word in to each other in between the screaming and interrupting children or at the end of the night when we are tired and crabby.

Quality communication is routinely put on the back burner because life is busy.  Life is complicated and it feels like slowing down to communicate would be a waste of precious time.  Talking to each other may actually make us confront and deal with our issues, or it can be a way to reinforce our bonds.  Refusing to deal with our issues or reinforcing our bonds, will slowly eat away at our relationship causing more harm than good.

My in-laws taught my wife a valuable lesson when she was a young girl.  Her parents had “coffee time” each day which meant that neither my wife nor her sister were allowed in the living room while their parents were talking and enjoying coffee.  They reserved this special time just to themselves before the chaos of the day enveloped them.  My wife and I have tried to emulate and schedule this time but I will admit it is difficult.  Being intentional about slowing down and communicating is extremely important.

If you do not have the time in the morning due to scheduling issues, schedule at least one date night per month for just the two of you.  Do what you can to find a babysitter and make this happen, it will pay dividends in the future.  These date nights will give you the much needed time to enjoy each others company and to talk about your goals and dreams.  This is a good transition into finances so you both can get on the same page.

These date nights can be used to discuss and track your financial progress with each other and to speak openly with your partner about your debts.  I am amazed at the amount of couples who have separate checking/savings accounts and who hide debt from each other.  As you can imagine, hiding debt from your partner is the perfect recipe for a disastrous conclusion.

Separate Accounts

I know several married couples who have separate accounts.  They are each responsible for paying certain bills and do not know the balances of the other’s account.  This separation of finances allows for guilt free spending because one can spend or charge without the other one knowing.  As long as the bills are paid, who really cares?  Unfortunately, this separation has the potential for couples to hide debts from each other and to live separate lives.  The unification of bank accounts coincides with the unification of the couple.  When you have shared goals and dreams, how can they fully be achieved if the means to accomplish these goals and dreams are separated?  Arresting your debt and building your future is about getting on the same page and working towards a common goal.  Why complicate this with separate accounts – unless you can’t trust yourself or your spouse?  If trust is the issue, then you have bigger problems than just your finances.

Combine your accounts and live as one – toward shared goals.  If you want to spend without guilt, allocate and budget “fun money” each month for each of you, and be open and honest about your income and debts.  Work together on this, you are missing out on an amazing journey together!!

Are you the Spender or the Saver?

I know either one or both of you are spenders.  If you were both savers, you wouldn’t be reading this article or in debt!  During your date night or coffee time, identify who is the spender and who is the saver.  The truth is, the saver may be way too thrifty and needs to loosen the purse strings and the spender needs to cut back a bit.  Compromise is usually necessary and it is not always a single parties fault in the debt crisis.  Being too frugal and strict may have a negative effect on the spender causing them to rebel and spend even more.  Be honest with yourselves and come to a common ground on your goals and direction and what is needed to get there.  Without your spouse on board, you will never be able to reach your goals – make this communication a priority.

Strategies for Quality Goals and Communication

Goals come in two different forms – short term and long term goals.  Some of you are visionary and can easily look 20 years down the road.  Others of you have trouble seeing the end of the week.  This is where quality goal setting is necessary.  Long term goals are realistic for you visionaries who can strive for this goal without being discouraged.  Short term goals, 6 months, 1 year, 5 year goals are necessary for you other ADHD folks (squirrel!).  If you can’t tell, I am very much the visionary one in my marriage…

Write down a few of your mutual goals that include both long and short term.  This satisfies both of your goal needs while remaining on track to accomplish the big picture.


As I end this entry, remember why you two chose to get married.  You loved (and hopefully still love) each other, and had common goals and values when you started.  Get back to where you once were and fight for each other.  You are a team and need to huddle up and finish the game.  Proper strategy and execution is necessary to win this game called life.  Again, it is ok to ask for help and I will be here to cheer you on.  You can do this – ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

-Ryan

Please look at my other related posts: Money CAN Buy Happiness! and Budget Isn’t A Bad Word

 

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Author: Ryan

Hi!  My name is Ryan and I have a passion for personal finance and education.  I am married and have three children, a girl and two boys all under the age of ten.  My wife stays home with the kids so it can be challenging to live off one income.  Much of what I write is based off my personal experiences and what I have learned in the course of my life. My financial journey began when my wife and I saved up a sum of money and I didn't know who I could trust to invest it.  After several interviews with financial advisers, I still didn't feel like I could trust anyone.  That began my journey to educate myself by reading every finance book I could get my hand on and by attending financial seminars.  After getting a good handle on debt, finance, and investments, I decided to start this blog as a resource for others who find it difficult to trust people with their money. I recently started writing this blog about how to get out of debt and start investing to create the future you deserve. I have been in law enforcement for 14 years and I have seen the devastation left behind by people who mismanage their finances.  I started this blog because I want to help as many people I can by educating them on common sense money management. As far as my formal education, I obtained a Bachelor of Science in Education and a Master of Administration Degree from Northern Arizona University.  I am an adjunct professor at a local community college and I have been a student of finance for many years. This blog is dedicated to those looking to eliminate their debt and to mold a new way of thinking, living, and spending. Education, focused on financial stability and wealth, is the main purpose of this blog. This website is a new journey for me and I know there are areas that I could improve.  Please feel free to reach out to me with any critiques - I would love the feedback so I can be as effective as I possibly can and provide the most relevant information.  I look forward to writing for you and learning with you! If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you! -Ryan

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