Financial expert Dave Ramsey notes that if you argue with your spouse about money and debt at least once a week, your marriage is 30% more likely to end in divorce.
Problems aren’t caused by lack of money so much as lack of respectful communication about money. It’s a fact that couples with fat savings accounts still fight about money. At the same time, many people on the poverty line manage to struggle through without the stress ruining their marriage. The key factors are communication and respect.
Love means communication, and love means respect. And, love is the only appropriate context to initiate a conversation about finances.
So if you are tired of fighting about finances with your wife, here are 10 ways to stop. Save more money and save your marriage:
1. Get on the same page:
Develop a family “vision”, “plan”, or “mission statement.” If you know where you’re going, then you’re more likely to agree.
2. Make decisions together, not unilaterally:
Many money fights emerge from lack of shared information. Sit down and talk about the budget so you both own the process.
3. Own responsibility for budget gaffes:
Make sure you’re the first and most frequent money-spender to say “mea culpa” (my bad). Set the example. Besides, the only person you can change is yourself. Once you do, the balance shifts and change is easier across the board.
4. Work out a detailed budget, together:
“The devil is in the details.” Few people fight about the mortgage, their car payment, or the electric bill. It’s the $11.29 at Starbucks last week. The $23.46 for the impromptu lunch. The $18 to get my nails done…
5. Never “finger-point”:
If you make your wife defensive, then you’ve already sabotaged the process. The name of the game is solutions, not blame.
6. Eliminate all financial secrets:
Here’s the rule: If you don’t want to tell your wife about the expense, then it’s something you don’t need to buy. Same goes for her. That’s why the process must be open and honest. Period.
7. Commit more of your funds to charity:
Generosity tends to put things in perspective. “Let’s give more to charity this year,” is an open invitation to cost-cutting elsewhere. Cost-cutting elsewhere tends to address problem areas first.
8. Attend a budget management class together:
In most marriages, the sum of a couple’s combined financial know-how is equivalent to less than half of what one person needs to know. Take a class. A great place to start is Financial Peace University.
9. Initiate an “all purchases over $25 dollars require agreement” rule:
Then, as soon as possible, make sure you’re the first one needing the nod from your spouse. See something you want impulsively? Get the go-ahead from your wife… or back away if she sounds cautious. Either way, you’ve demonstrated respect and commitment to the shared budgeting ideal.
10. Don’t fight anymore!
No, seriously. Sometimes this can be one of those “duh” things. Why don’t you want to fight? Because it’s counter-productive and then you both feel bad – right? So don’t do it. Make the decision to use other interventions. If it doesn’t work, don’t go there! Duh.
Huddle Up Question
What changes in our lifestyle can we make right now to reduce our personal debt by 10%?