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Before I got married I had heard that the number one cause of divorce was financial problems. This instantly gave me anxiety and a strong desire to never, ever fight about money. It sounds good in theory but this meant for nearly a decade I kept every single financial struggle we were facing to myself. I have been handling our budget since before we were married. Any time money was tight or debt felt overwhelming I just kept it to myself because I didn’t want to stress Tom out and I certainly didn’t want to fight about money. The truth is talking to your spouse about living on a budget can be extremely stressful but it is absolutely necessary.
I’m going to break down some great resources to help get you started on the right financial track with your significant other. Because, as it turns out, the actual leading cause of divorce (these days) is lack of communication. Damn. I got that wrong this whole time. So I’ll share with you what got me to open up, how we started getting serious with our finances and what you can do to get serious with yours.
We moved into our house a little over a year ago. We had downsized (you can read the story here How Downsizing Changed Our Family) so we had a pretty good chunk of money left over. The big plan was to save a ton and use some to get the house “perfect” before we moved in. Another thing you should know about me is that I love giving. Our son had spent a recent stay in the hospital and people were so generous in helping us financially get through it. Now that we had some extra cash, I was feeling generous. Pay it forward, ya know? On Facebook there was a link to a Go Fund Me account for a girl I had gone to high school with. I decided to give $200 and I did let Tom know. Imagine my horror when a few days later I realized I had actually typed an additional “0” to my donation. $2,000… Talk about heart stopper.
I did everything I could to try to stop the payment before it was delivered. It felt terrible. It felt greedy and icky. While I felt guilty trying to take it back I also felt guilty having given away so much of our money. It wasn’t only mine to give. Long story short, I explored all my options and eventually had to confess to Tom. In our 9 years of marriage I had never been so terrified to tell him anything. He was mad. Ultimately, we made peace with our lost “0” and decided that the person who needed it more had it.
From that moment on I realized that even though it would be stressful, our finances were something I needed to open up about more. If you are the budgeter in your family and you know this crippling fear I’m talking about, let’s talk about how you can overcome this huge hurdle and start communicating.
Open up to your significant other by simply saying you want to learn with them. Taking on the budget burden can be overwhelming for one person to manage and you want their help to be the best you can be as a couple. The real tricky thing with this is, it will take some investing. This was always the real hard part for me. I refused to pay for financial classes when we were struggling financially. I mean, how backwards is that? So I’d take my frustration out by heading to Caribou (the northern version of Starbucks but better) and buying myself a new pair of shoes. Ahh..that’s better, right? Um…no. I spent way too much time investing in the wrong things. I chat about this a little bit during my 333 Closet Downsize Challenge.
The truth is you have to put your money where your priorities are. If one of your main priorities is to get out of debt and get real with your finances, then it’s important that you invest in programs that will help you.
On a good note, the internet is full of tons of free helpful hints. Here are a few awesome budgeting sites I found that have printables to help you get your budget organized and on track:
Reading together may sound like absolute torture. Maybe you don’t like reading, maybe your spouse doesn’t like reading or maybe the idea of curling up and reading to your spouse or them reading to you just weirds you out. I get it. However, Dave Ramsey has a ton of great reading material when it comes to creating financial peace. He is also the creator of Financial Peace University. Financial Peace University is a great course that takes you step by step through all of Dave Ramsey’s best debt payoff methods and budgeting tips. Basically a crash course to survive and thrive when it comes to money. Below is a Financial Peace University kit as well as some of Dave Ramsey’s top recommended books. He also has a great board game for kids to get them started with smart finances at a young age: Act Your Wage
With anything in life, don’t feel like you have to conquer it all or you will quickly feel defeated before you even start trying. There are also a ton of great online resources that you can turn to, some as cheap as $10 to get started. The Household Budget Manual is an extremely detailed informative online download that you can access immediately.
Love and Money is a newer program that was started by Bright Peak Financial. It is specifically geared toward couples growing together in their marriage and in their finances. They have a great printables library as well as workshops, small group kits and e-courses. This is a great chance for you and your spouse to browse through options and decide on which one will be best for you to get started with. The Love and Money e-course is very reasonably priced and a good way to slowly ease into bettering your finances. While their workshop is for those of you who are not kidding around anymore. If you know you want to get serious with your finances and you want to get serious now, I highly recommend this workshop or purchasing Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.
Getting your finances in order is absolutely a must if you plan on sharing your life with someone. Sharing a life means sharing money and money struggles. Let’s face it, if you have a big problem to overcome, more often than not, two is better than one. They say working out is better with an accountability buddy. The same is true in your marriage when it comes to finances…or anything else for that matter. Help one another get back on track and stay there.
Lastly. What is your why? Why do you want to get better finances? Do you each have your own whys? Talk about them and be supportive. If you want to save up for a vacation to the Bahamas and your spouse wants to save up to get another flat screen TV that you don’t think you need; still be supportive. (Maybe I’m speaking from experience.) Allow one another to be heard. It will be the best way to get through this together. Communication. Communication. Communication.