What is the number one reason cited for divorce?
You guessed it—money matters!
If most couples are asked if they argue about money, they will reply, “We don’t fight about money, we just have some disagreements.”
When Bob and I were newly married he went into an electronics store to buy batteries and came out with a new VCR. We were $40K in debt, living on one military income and barely had enough money to buy groceries.
But did we fight about his compulsive decision to drop $500 on a new VCR when we didn’t even own a TV?
We just had a “disagreement.”
It’s no wonder that “money issues” are cited as the number one reason for divorce.
But I believe that every couple can go from fighting to freedom by recognizing the most common disputes and moving toward resolution.
A Spender Bender
Problem: This is an age-old problem when one spouse is a born saver and her mate, the born spender, goes on a buying binge.
Solution: The Balanced Budget – The best way to begin to curb a spender’s buying habits is to sit down and work out a family budget.
If you’ve “been there, done that” and it still isn’t working, then do it again—this time in front of a Consumer Credit Counselor or if you are military, then a Family Readiness financial counselor.
The Done Deal
Problem: This is when one person opens the credit card bill and discovers the tab for the new table saw, the designer suit, or the night your mate took his entire office out for drinks while at a corporate convention.
The fantasy here is that because it’s “mission accomplished” your better half will let it go.
Oh, but they don’t!
Solution: The Return Deal – With the average couple in $8,500 of credit card debt, we find that this “done deal” policy only leads to more debt—and more problems.
If you still have the receipt and can take the item back for a refund, this is the quickest fix.
Additionally, make it a policy to consult your spouse for purchases over _______(you fill in the blank).
Sometimes, just the idea of calling to ask what your spouse thinks about buying that $300 Coach purse is enough to forgo the impulse buy.
Where’s The Money, Honey?
Problem: This is where you (or your honey) use your debit card for cash on Friday and by Monday you have no idea where that money went. You have nothing to show for it. Nada. Zilch.
Solution: Target Practice – The old saying, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time” is particularly true in your family’s finances.
The solution lies in tracking the money. LearnVest is a good app that can help. It takes two minutes to document purchases and makes you think twice about spending carelessly.
My Spouse is so Emo!
Problem: This is what happens when you sit down to discuss finances and spouses either get defensive, feel superior, act condescending or display some kind of other emotion that is not constructive.
Solution: Set up a money date once a week and follow the Sixty Minute Money Workout. This workout has a start and a finish time so that you are motivated to work together.
It also establishes very clear boundaries that help promote mutual respect. It has worked every time Bob and I had a “problem” and instead of bugging each other, we ended up hugging!
Too Many Judges, Not Enough Contestants
Problem: On American Idol, the wrong combination of judges can set off the wrong kind of fireworks.
Many financial problems stem when one person tries to grab control of money matters. If you’re not careful, the kids can grab control with all their needs and wants.
Solution: Checks and Balances – In most families, one partner is better with money than the other. It’s natural to put this person in charge of paying the bills and administering the household budget.
But it’s also crucial that the other partner knows where the money goes and how it is spent.
I’m the better “money handler” in our family (big surprise) but we establish our budget together.
Bob writes the checks or pays the bills online and I balance the checkbook so that we have built-in mutual accountability.
No matter what your financial situation, you can learn to go from fighting about finances to finding the freedom your family deserves.
All it takes is a willingness to give ground on both sides and you’ll soon find yourself as part of a cohesive, winning team!
What can you do to go from fighting to freedom in your marriage when it comes to your finances?