Our first real money conversation
Andrea: “Hey honey, how was your day?”
Me: “It was awesome! I was thinking we should get out of debt! In order for us to win with our money you can no longer shop at Target or go out to lunch with your friends. Also, we are selling your car.”
Andrea: Silence. Angry Eyes. More Silence. “Nope.” Back turned. Walked away. I wish I was being crafty and trying to sound cool for this post, but this was EXACTLY how it came out of my mouth and exactly how she reacted. I
am was stupid. Even typing these words makes me truly wonder how I have made it into my 30s. Once you decide to get on a path to financial freedom, very rarely (never) is your spouse going to have the same feelings at first. It would be so much easier if we both popped out of bed in the middle of the night, embraced in a big hug 😉 (meow), and screamed – Let’s do this! But that would be too easy and this money and marriage thing isn’t easy. Duh! So, I am assuming that if you’re reading this, you may be the savvy one in when it comes to finances in your marriage. By savvy, I mean you want to get out of debt and the other one doesn’t. This happens all the time and it happened to me – clearly. I don’t want you to make the same mistakes I made when trying to convince my sweet wife about our new financial future we were going to start. So, let’s get down to business. The first thing you need to do is realize you are also the problem. Say What!? Yup, I said it – you are also the problem. For me, all I saw at first was her spending habits that pissed me off. A new dress at Nordstrom, a new purse from Target (pronounce Tar-jay when your wife buys something ah-may-zing) and the $14 sandwich from the cute deli downtown. What I failed to realize were two things:
A) I also spent money
B) I was being a pain in the a$$.
Even when I sat down and looked at what we had been spending over the past 90 days, I didn’t think my $400/month Home Depot budget was expensive because it wasn’t stuff for me, but for the house. I was helping our family by adding stuff to our house we didn’t need. Basically, all I was really doing was the woman version of buying a dress. I was the problem too. If that wasn’t enough, I was also a being a complete pain in the a$$ about money. My wife is a full grown woman – that sounds like I mean heavy, but I mean she is a grown up. Also, she doesn’t want to be treated like a child – who would have guessed, right? She would rather be kicked in the face with a golf shoe than to listen to her husband yapping at her like a toy poodle about her spending habits. Looking back, I don’t blame her. We don’t like to be nagged, yipped at, or beat up about what we are doing. Stop it! If you are running into a roadblock with your marriage and money, remember – you are also the problem. Once you grasp this, you are going to start noticing less money fights and less awkward money conversations. However, there is still more to do to win over the spouse you have been beating on about money lately. You need to understand each other. An exercise that Derek and Carrie Olson talk about in their book One Bed One Bank Account, is to have this conversation casually over a cup of coffee:
How would each of us spend $100,000 if we had it right now?
When you guys sit down and talk about this question, you are going to start seeing each other’s money blueprint. There is more about this in a post How do you feel about money. You are going to see what part money plays in each other’s heart and even realize how awesome (and dumb) some of these ideas are with money. But the biggest takeaway – it is an easy exercise to finally open up a healthy conversation about money. Once you open up that valve on the ol’ pressure cooker, you are going to be able to go further into the dreaded money conversation. Now is the time to both share the why behind your money. If you’re like me, all I was focused on was telling Andrea the how. Without discussing each of your WHY, you are still going to be perceived as the mean budget Nazi trying to persuade your spouse to join your cult. I started to discuss my why about money and then she opened up about her why and completely blew my mind. It was at that moment I finally understood she was way smarter than me. We were both onto something and it actually became exciting. We both had great ideas about what life would look like if we didn’t have any debt. We talked about being able to travel more, give more, and relax more because the stress would be gone. Each one of our individual ideas soon became OUR ideas. When this happens – congratulations. You are now both going to start winning with money. Once my goal became her goal, which transformed into our goal, we were off and running and have never looked back. We became completely transparent about money. All of our accounts are joint accounts. We do the budget TOGETHER every time. We each have full knowledge and access to every single account because we realized if something happened to one of us, the other one would need to have full access and knowledge on how our money works. There are no more secrets. We are an open book and an open bank account. The best part – we are winning! Together. Here are some tips we use in our marriage with our money:
- Transparency – When it comes to our finances, we are joined at the hip. When we were married, the preacher didn’t say I now pronounce you a joint venture. We became one.
- Have a limit – We have a $100 limit. If one of us is going to spend $100 or more on something, we shoot a text or a call to each other to see if we are on the same page.
- Have pocket money – We each budget $25 a month to go in our pocket for whatever the crap we want! This started out because of buying gifts for each other or things we wanted to make a surprise.
- Have a legacy drawer – The legacy drawer is simply a drawer in our office that has our financial lives in it. When you open the drawer, we have all bank accounts, all investment accounts, car titles, social security information, insurance information, and anything related to our finances. This drawer has everything she would need if something were to happen to me or vice-versa. This drawer will make you sleep better at night.
- Budget together – Go to the Budget Page to see more about this.
- Talk about money and your goals regularly – Goals are on paper, but also in pencil. As we grow, things change, and we talk about where and how we are going to get to OUR awesome.
- Teach the kids about money – They are watching and we understand more is caught than taught.
- Be on the radar for dumb – We are human and still will figure out something dumb to do with money. Rarely do both of us have this dumb feeling at the same time, so one of us is always the voice of reason. Pay attention and listen to that person!
- Give together – Whether it’s money, time, or both, we do it together. This is probably the most fun we have had during our financial freedom journey.
Have a question about getting your spouse on the same page and it wasn’t answered yet? Leave me a comment I will get back to you on what I would do if I were in your shoes. Leaving a comment is awesome because you may be asking the same question as the next reader! Be good to yourself, your friends, your love, and BE GOOD TO YOUR MONEY!