“Money makes the world go round” the famous saying goes. It is also one of the top ten reasons for divorce in America today. But we have to have money, right? Of course, but our attitudes make a huge difference.
In the 1970’s people were exposed to approximately 500 advertisements a day. Guess what the number is today? We are exposed to 5,000 ads a day, ten times more than in the 70’s!!
Wherever we gaze we are coaxed to believe that we need the latest designer jeans, the newest phone or the latest car. Add to that the latest gadgets, the cutest toys, kitchenware, home décor, books, movies, entertainment, FOOD – and we are doomed to spending without end. Is it any wonder that we as a nation are deeply in debt with no end in sight?
So how does this affect a marriage? There is never enough money, no matter what we earn. Whatever financial bracket that we fall into, there are always enough physical “toys” to use up what we earn, and more. It doesn’t matter whether your income is $50,000 or $550,000; there will never be enough.
So what’s a girl (or guy) to do? The first thing to understand is that the ads won’t ever stop, the shiny new merchandise will never stop, the increasing possessions of our friends will never stop. There will always be a reason to want more, and more and more.
In every marriage there is always a more frugal partner and on the flip side an easy spender. This can make for some pretty touchy emotions. It can be frustrating for the frugal partner to see earnings used up each month on non-necessities, and the easy spender might feel choked with not enough discretionary cash.
What’s the solution? The first step is developing some regular conversations about money. Communication here is more than key. It is crucial to be open and honest about what is important to you. You may not get what you want, but at least the two of you will understand each other and be able to compromise on the basis of that understanding.
Perhaps the easy spender can have a reasonable discretionary budget each month. Agreeing on that number is essential. That number will be different for everyone. But let’s take a random amount and say its 1-3 hundred dollars. That means that Mr. or Mrs. Frugal will have to “let go” and not even look or comment on what Mr. or Mrs. Easy Spender uses the money for. At the same time, Mr. or Mrs. Easy Spender has to live within the agreed upon limit. So let’s say Easy Spender wants to blow the money on a designer bag, a pair of shoes, a set of knives, a back-pack etc. That’s fine, but that’s it for the month. If later there is a great deal on something else, “Oh well, it will have to wait for next month!”
Did you hear the word “limit”? – Yes! One of the ways to mend money rifts is by setting limits. In this way both parties can learn to live within reasonable limits – Easy Spender with his/her discretionary cash and Mr. or Mrs. Frugal knowing that there is a limit on spending. It’s actually an old secret, “the budget.” Read more about budgeting here.
This approach can lead to developing “financial muscle,” which means that Easy Spender learns to set limits and save for the important things that he/she desires and Mr. or Mrs. Frugal can have the real security they desire, knowing how much money will be available for necessities, saving, investing etc.
This might seem really painful at first. It’s hard for Easy Spender to be limited and it’s hard for Frugal to relinquish control. If both parties can get on the same page, a major cause of discord will be reduced in the marriage. Working on money can lead to trust and the pleasure of taking control of your finances.
How do you handle money in your marriage? What are some of the things that you do to help your marriage regarding finances? Share your insights below.