When we mix marriage and money, it can either be a recipe for disaster or financial success. It’s really up to us. With proactivity, perseverance and some open communication, a financially harmonious relationship can be ours if we want it.
For a lot of us (me included), it’s not always marital roses and sunshine when money is involved. In the age of “1-click ordering,” our desires can often outpace our income. These unplanned online purchases or any other impulse buy can cause momentary joy, but can pull us away from our long-term financial goals and cause fights about money.
Here are seven actionable tips that will help you and your spouse align your spending appropriately and start to work together as a team.
Become Clear on Your Own Financial Goals
Our actions and words can hold a lot more power when they are backed up by a goal. Decreasing household spending is a tactic that will quite often help you meet a multitude of goals, but defining a specific personal finance mission is most important.
For example, let’s say you have $12,000 of student debt and you want it out of your life. Now you have a goal that backs up your desire to control your household spending.
Be sure to get SMART with your goals as well:
Here’s a SMART declaration: “I want to pay off my student loan balance of $12,000 in 24 months.”
After you assess if your goal is realistic, you’re ready to start taking action.
Ask Your Spouse to Share Their Goals with You
This can be an excellent opportunity to connect with your spouse. When a person shares their financial dreams, they are opening up their heart to you. They are showing you what is most important to them.
Sit down with your spouse, turn off your cell phone and ask them to share their goals. Truly listen.
Perhaps you’ll discover that your goals may align. You may even learn something you never knew. These are the conversations that allow your financial relationship to really grow.
See Where Your Goals Intersect
Let’s say your spouse wants to pursue a small business opportunity, but always just considered it a pipe dream. This is your chance to get your significant other fired up about both goals. When both of you are working toward a common goal, your chance for success rises exponentially.
In this scenario, decreasing your household spending can eliminate those dreaded student loans and provide capital for a small business venture.
Ask yourself and your spouse why you want to pursue these goals. Some potential answers could be:
- Reducing your stress
- Feeling proud of building a business
- Using the extra money to have more fun
Your individual answers will help you both drive toward your goal together.
If you’re not aware of how much you’re spending each month, then you’ll never know how to improve your finances. Start your journey of financial improvement by getting a gauge of your current expenses.
Utilize a budgeting system for couples, such as Honeyfi, which allows both you and your spouse to feel empowered. A system like this will automatically sync your bank and credit card accounts so you can see your spending. This way you can make improvements and move closer to your collective financial goals.
If you’re not into finance apps, not a problem. Grab a copy of your last bank or credit card statement and start to analyze the expenses. Look for trends, patterns and start to add up your typical monthly expenses.
Once you’re budgeting with your spouse, your financial future starts to become clearer.
Practice Saying “No”
It’s never fun to miss out on fun experiences or buying the trendiest gear, but if we want to improve our financial future we need to learn to start saying “no.”
It’s not all doom and gloom though. When we say “no” to one thing, we’re saying “yes” to another. For example, you may have to say “no” to impulse shopping a couple years, but you’re saying “yes” to saving money for your future small business.
Will you feel happier owning your business or having the freedom to shop as you please? Only you can answer that.
When Times Get Tough, Focus on the “Why”
As you’re working on controlling your spending to hit your financial goals, there will be plenty of setbacks, obstacles and marital disagreements along the way. Do your best to focus on why you started down this path to begin with.
If you want to eliminate the student debt in your life so your days are less stressful and more joyful, remind yourself of that when you feel like giving up.
“When I’m student debt-free, I will feel less stressed and happier knowing that I don’t owe Sallie Mae another dime!”
Or in your spouse’s case:
“I will feel proud and confident when I’m managing my own business. That’s why I’m sticking to this!”
Celebrate Your Wins
Some financial goals can take quite a bit of time. That’s why it’s important to celebrate along the way. No accomplishment is too small.
- You’ve met three months in a row for your budget reviews? Congrats! Time to party!
- The student debt is down to $5,000? You’re a rock star!
- You’ve saved up $2,500 for your future small business savings account? Cheers!
Take time to do the activity you two love the most. Congratulate each other for your teamwork, partnership and love.
And when the big day comes when you’ve accomplished your monster goal, go crazy! Take a picture together, shoot a video, celebrate with family and shout it from the rooftops. The two of you are creating the lives you’ve always dreamed of and you’re doing it together.
How do you get on the same financial page as your spouse? What impulse purchases grab your wallet? Please let us know in the comments below.
If so, subscribe now for tips on home, money, and life delivered straight to your inbox.