I thought I was good with money. I thought I was a saver. I thought I was good at budgeting… and then… I met Eric. Wow, there is a lot to be said for perspective. I have since learned that while I am better than some at money management, Eric is king! This has been comforting and… completely annoying (sometimes simultaneously!).
Eric’s awesome money management skills and willingness to delay gratification made (and makes) it possible for me to work from home on material for PreEngaged. Eric’s ability to predict outcomes has helped save money when we may have otherwise spent it foolishly. Eric’s desire to prepare for the future gives me a sense of calm about the years to come.
Strengths and Weaknesses
But… sometimes, I want to spend money. I know… why would I want to do that? That is when Eric’s strength feels like a weakness. When I want to spend several hundred dollars on something we don’t need (but something that would make me feel better), it does not seem like a blessing when Eric does not agree. When I want a new vehicle (new meaning less than ten years old ~smile~), Eric’s slow and steady research and lack of car fever drives me crazy. When it’s been a semi-hard day and I want an excuse to eat out, I don’t want to hear Eric remind me of the three other times we ate out that week. I just want what I want. Sound familiar to anyone? ~smile~
Eric and I are so thankful that we adopted good money management skills early in our marriage. As much I would love to spend more money on fun and food, I am thankful for Eric’s diligence in keeping our finances in check. We attended a Dave Ramsey class when we had been married about a year and after putting the principles he taught into practice, we were able to pay off our car, our student loan debt, and begin saving, saving, saving!
More than anything, going through this class together and agreeing to live on a budget helped Eric and I to be unified in this area. We do not always agree with each other, but at the end of the day we do have a sense of peace and teamwork with our money. I would not want it any other way.
Money fights and money problems are the reasons most often cited when couples divorce. Money is needed to eat, have a home, drive a car, bring kids into the world, and to stay covered with clothes. When funds our low, we become testy, uncomfortable, anxious, afraid, and sometimes angry. “I work so hard! Why is it never enough?!”
A lack of financial unity will quickly drive a wedge between married couples. We need money to buy necessities. If we cannot agree on how our money should be spent, conflict is sure to come. “I work hard. I should occasionally be able to buy something I want!” “I work hard too, and I am not going to waste hard earned money on frivolous trivialities when we have bills to pay. So grow up already!”
The Joys of Financial Unity in Marriage
Money represents different priorities to different people. Some see money as power. Others see money as security. Prestige is often attached to the accumulation of money and some see having money as having the ability to give and serve others more effectively. What does money mean to you? What does it represent? What does it represent to your sweetie?
Financial unity brings peace to a marriage. It removes one of the greatest stressors marriages face. By taking money off the table, Eric and I had little need to fight. ~smile~ It is harder in the beginning when you have to construct the budget, play around with the budget, agree on the budget, and learn to live on the budget; but, once it is all in place there is a sigh of relief that follows.
Though it does take diligence, following a budget and faithfully living on it together gives couples a far greater likelihood of meeting their financial goals. Without a budget, money just floats away. Living on a plan, and each partner keeping the other accountable, is the fastest way to get what you want without accruing burdensome debt. The sooner you are debt free and all saved up, the sooner you can give money to those in need; and, like Dave Ramsey says, giving is the most fun you will ever have with money!
The Frustrations of Financial Discord in Marriage
Oh, where to start. Not being on the same page with money is a recipe for conflict. In some cases, it is a recipe for disaster. Consider the following results of financial discord in marriage:
- Debt, bankruptcy, and constantly being hounded by debt collectors.
- Loss of intimacy due to discouragement and anger about monetary decisions.
- Temptation to hide purchases and lie about spending money, leading to further loss of intimacy.
- Presenting a poor example of teamwork and money management within marriage to your children.
- Having stress follow you through each holiday, birthday, and other special occasions (e.g., We have to spend money, but we don’t have money to spend. Christmas is more stressful than happy. Why can we never agree on how much to spend on our families?)
These are just a few results of financial division between couples. Even though couples who are living on a plan may not have much money, they are at least in agreement about how it will be spent. So even if Christmas is not extravagant, the couple is in a good place with each other. That is far more important than opening a lot of stuff on Christmas morning.
Talk to the One you Plan to Marry about Money
Discuss everything you can think of that pertains to money, how it should be used, and talk about money often. Ask each other’s opinions on saving, budgeting, investing, insurance, car and home purchases, giving, tithing, and anything else that springs to mind. One or the other of you is likely to be more interested in the details of money and money management, but both parties need to be on the same page.
Warning (this is huge!): Do not combine your money into one account until you are legally and officially married (not even the day before). The day after you come back from your honeymoon, make your money merging transactions.
Also, do not get married before you both have come to an agreement about how money should be used. You will never agree on every detail, but you should come to an agreement (and maybe even compromise) about how money will be managed in your home.
Without good dialogue and coming to an agreement, the stronger personality in the marriage is likely to steamroll the other. Either the “Type A” saver spouse will put crazy restrictions on the more laid back partner or the strong spender personality will push past the more conservative partner’s concerns about money. Without love, understanding, compromise, and a nailed down plan, money can take the most loving of couples and turn them against each other. Above all, remember to keep God and His Word in the center of your financial dealings. Know what He says about money and follow His commands.
What Does the Bible Say?
Below are a few verses that pertain to money and what God has to say concerning finances. Read and discuss them with your sweetheart:
- “Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” – Proverbs 13:11, ESV
- “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.” – Ecclesiastes 5:10
- “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” – 1 Timothy 6:10, ESV
- “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” – Romans 13:8, ESV
- “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” – Proverbs 22:7, ESV
- “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” – Proverbs 10:4, ESV
- “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” – Malachi 3:10, ESV
- “My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, have given your pledge for a stranger, if you are snared in the words of your mouth, caught in the words of your mouth, then do this, my son, and save yourself, for you have come into the hand of your neighbor: go, hasten, and plead urgently with your neighbor. Give your eyes no sleep and your eyelids no slumber; save yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the hand of the fowler.” – Proverbs 6:1-5, ESV
Are you confident that you and your future spouse will have financial unity in your marriage?