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February 2, 2016, 8:00 AM

How to Get You and Your Spouse on the Same Financial Page


 

We all know the stress finances can place on a marriage. Money (or the lack thereof) has been known to decimate a husband and wife’s relationship. But it does not have to be this way. Financial matters do not have to bring division to a marriage, but can serve as a point of unification. If you are married, consider these seven steps to bring oneness to your money:

Agree that you need to agree. This seems simple enough, but many couples operate as if it is not important. He has his goals, and she has her goals. And at times, they pull their finances in completely different directions. Getting on the same financial page as your spouse starts by acknowledging the need to be on the same page. It means that chasing separate goals will lead to frustration and a financial future full of unachieved goals.

Replace “mine” with “ours.” The way in which you communicate ownership of your and your spouse’s money is telling. When talking about money, start using “our” instead of “mine.” “Our money” is inclusive and promotes cooperation. “My money” is exclusive and promotes individualism. This can be particularly difficult for newlyweds, especially with money they earned and saved prior to the marriage. But as a couple joins together, this slight shift in language conveys a crucial shift in perspective.

Take a look at reality. What does your cash flow really look like? What is your real wealth? How far are you really from retiring? How much do you really owe? One of the greatest mistakes you can make with your finances is to assume you are better off than you really are. It is an assumption that leads to many poor money decisions. Uncovering reality is not always fun, but it is necessary for making the best money decisions moving forward. Figure out where you really are financially, not where you think you are.

Dream together. After determining where you are, determine where you want to go. I recommend doing this in 10 to 15 year increments. What do you want your future to look like? Both you and your spouse will have differing dreams. Be willing to do a little compromising and create an envisioned future you can both chase.

Develop dream-reaching goals. Once you have agreed what the dream looks like, figure out what goals must be reached to get there. How much must be saved? How much do you need in retirement? Your dream will inevitably require you reaching a few major financial goals.

Identify goal-reaching milestones. It can become wearisome chasing a 10-year goal. Identify milestones along the way to celebrate. Paying off a major credit card balance, downsizing your home, and a certain amount saved can all be great milestones.

Every year, ask, “What do we need to accomplish this year?” As you look at your goal’s milestones, figure out what must be done each year. Set priorities for the year. This can greatly reduce conflict over how money is used throughout the year. If you are both on the same financial page with yearly priorities that help you get to a shared dream, you have made a huge step in reaching those dreams.

What about you? How do you promote “oneness” with your marriage’s money? Please place your comments in the section below. 

 

Written by Art Rainer. Art serves as the Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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