Could You Save Your Marriage With A Money Plan?
They say that money is the root of all evil. While we all know that it’s more complex than a simple saying, disagreements about money are at the root of a lot of marital distress. I have had clients complain that a spouse spends too much, or refuses to pay back creditors in a timely fashion, or just has a different philosophy about how to handle money. Sadly, some feel that the only way to protect their own bottom line is through divorce.
While having someone spend you into thousands of dollars of debt can feel like an attack, the way to hedge against being blindsided by your spouse’s spending is to start a dialog about your money plan. And it doesn’t come easy for everyone. The case for 15% of Americans is that they would have to forgo paying a household bill or some existing debt payments to cover a $400 emergency. So, for some people creating and maintaining a household budget with a cushion for emergencies has proven difficult.
How To Take Charge of the Finances
The first step you and your spouse can take in that dialog, is to look at your income and your expenses. Get a handle on what you both are spending and how it compares to what you are bringing in. Knowing is half the battle. If you are part of the 15%, set a small starting goal for that emergency fund, and put a small amount aside each month until you reach it. Also remember to include a little in the budget for each of you to spend ‘no questions asked.’ You are both adults and no one wants to have to ask permission for every penny they spend. The most important thing is for you and your spouse to get on the same page.
Planning is the Path to Financial Harmony
On this journey, keep in mind that your money plan, or budget, is not in place as a punishment. It’s in place so you both know what the plan is ahead of time and can both agree on what you want things to look like for your family. It’s the pathway to being in a place where you do what you want with your money instead of what you have to.
So, I always ask these folks with money issues, “If these issues were cleared up, would you still want to divorce?” Granted the answer if often “yes, that’s just part of it.” But occasionally the answer is no. They might be alright if they could agree on how to handle the money.