Since Valentine’s day is near I thought I would talk about what is running through the minds of everyone trying to find that special gift to show their spouse how much they love them, “Do I have enough room on my credit card to buy that box of chocolates and flowers?” Nothing is more romantic than talking about your finances, right? Financial trouble, and the stress that comes with them, are the leading causes of divorce.
Nearly every marriage goes through money trouble, but is divorce the solution? I don’t think so, if you and your spouse can get through all that debt and create a financial plan with agreed upon goals and work together to reach them, the process will actually make your marriage better.
Nothing is more romantic than talking about your finances
Talk dirty to me
Most couples rarely talk about your finances together or have the same feelings or philosophies about money. One might save every penny they find and has a special coupon clipping kit and the other spends their paycheck before they get it not thinking about having enough at the end of the month. You need to spot money problems early and attack them together to avoid disaster. Pointing fingers, name calling, and screaming at each other does nothing to eliminate financial stress. Don’t let your debt run your life; face it head on and take control of your finances.
You show me yours, I’ll show you mine
The first step is to sit down together and talk about your finances, be honest about all the debt you have, all the savings and investments you have and any other relevant financial information. You can’t create a successful financial plan if you withhold information from each other. The key is to work together on a realistic and reasonable family budget based on the goals that have been set together. Track your spending, and make your dollars go further by sticking to this budget once it is in place. You will have a step by step formula for figuring out where the most important place to utilize your money will be. You can then determine what expenses you can cut back on or eliminate altogether.
I promise to respect you in the morning
Once you have a plan and goals in place the easy part is over. The hard part is staying true to the budget you both agreed on and erasing the old spending habits with new ones. Of course there will be times when you stray of course; however it’s important to review your budget regularly and hold each other accountable to sticking with the plan. If your goal is to buy a home or new car put a picture of your dream home or car somewhere you can see it each day. Talk to each other to see how you are handling the new budget and the great feeling of being in control of your money and the difference it will make in your financial futures.
If you are having trouble figuring out your finances and creating a budget don’t panic. There are lots of resources available and you can download a Family budget template that I use here. If you want professional help contact a financial advisor that works with families (like me ;-)) and they can help you organize your finances and come up with a realistic financial plan.
It all comes down to communication and being honest with each other. No more hiding credit card statements or ignoring your increasing debt load, take your heads out of the sand and come together to get back in control. Take the time to really find out where you money goes, what financial goals you both share and come up with a plan that gets you ahead instead of falling behind. It will lead to a better understanding of each other and a stronger relationship from working together. It will also set an example for your children about teamwork and personal finances. In other words, talk about your finances!
Andrew W Bradley
Insurance Broker & Financial Services Advisor
The information is of a general nature only and does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be used, relied upon, or treated as a substitute for specific professional advice. I recommend that you obtain your own independent professional advice before making any decision in relation to your particular requirements or circumstances.