Money is one of the most common sources of conflict in marriage because we enter marriage with different views and expectations about money.
Financial counseling is designed to help you manage your own financial resources. Decide if you need to invest in a financial coach or a marriage coach. Generally, a financial coach is recommended if there are immediate monetary needs, whereas a marriage coach is more equipped to handle the trust and infidelity aspect. No matter where you are at financially, you can work towards a solution by committing to tracking your finances and learning how to communicate your needs, concerns, and desires with your partner.
How you manage your money will have a direct effect on the health of your marriage. Here are some ways to work on your finances with your partner.
Financial Counseling for Low-Income Families
Financial counselors are experienced professionals that will help you understand your current money situation and what must be done to achieve your financial goals. In particular, they can provide reliable information on assistance programs such as:
- budget counseling, credit counseling
- debt counseling
- bankruptcy assistance
- housing assistance
- government benefits, grants, and loans
Financial counselors will help your family both in your current situation and in the future. They will assist you in financial crisis, and in understanding strong financial habits that will help you avoid costly mistakes that will save you time and money in the future. You will learn how to be in control of your money.
Decide if You Need a Financial Coach or a Marriage Coach
Money expert Dave Ramsey identifies common money arguments, and whether you need a financial coach or marriage coach to help overcome them.
Ramsey recommends a financial coach if:
- your spouse won’t commit to a budget,
- you are considering bankruptcy,
- your spouse hides purchases (big or small),
- your both broke and need money,
- you are engaged to be married.
However, a marriage coach is recommended if:
- you’re dealing with financial infidelity,
- your spouse has a gambling problem,
- you are engaged to be married.
There is a difference between a financial coach and a financial counselor, according to Chris Hogan, author of Everyday Millionaires. Financial coaches help you build wealth, while financial counselors help you manage your wealth that you’ve already built. Building wealth constitutes budgeting, saving, and reducing debt. Counselors typically have more training and education, and you meet on a short-term basis. You’ll interact with a financial coach more and they will keep you accountable.
Financial issues are important, and sometimes it may take an expert to resolve them. A good coach can help you achieve that balance in your bank account and in your personal life, and that is a great investment.
How to Overcome Common Financial troubles As a Couple
Here are five ways that you can handle money as a couple in a way that unites you both.
- Both partners should have a role in managing money. While it is often easier for one to specialize in certain roles, it is important for both to understand how money is being spent and saved through regular conversations. If one of you is better at finances, the other should at least be aware of where money is being spent.
- Have a joint bank account. There are mixed opinions out there about if all accounts should be joint, or if there should be one joint account and then each partner also has a separate account. However, many experts agree that there should be a joint account. Having separate accounts allows a partner to hide spending that would potentially create bitterness.
- Get honest about your spending and saving habits. It is easy to avoid this conversation because it can feel uncomfortable, but it is important to have similar values. Discuss how your families handled finances when you were growing up, because people tend to handle their finances just as their families did.
- Consider how you each view money. People from different socioeconomic backgrounds can handle money differently. For example, wealthier families see money as something to be conserved and invested, while someone from a lower-income household might view money as something to be spent or managed.
- Be open with how much debt you have, and how much debt you are willing to accumulate. If either one of you has significant debt, then devise a plan together on how you will manage it and eventually pay it back.
Communicate Your Needs, Concerns, and Desires with Your Partner
Have a regular budget meeting (weekly, biweekly, or monthly). While one person’s role may be to pay the bills and take care of the investments, the partner should be informed about what is happening and how your finances are going on a regular basis.
For example, my husband and I still have a budget meeting – just the two of us, on our couch – at the end of every month so we can track our spending, see how we are progressing on achieving our financial goals, and make any adjustments as necessary.
An intentional 15 minutes each month saves us financial headache in the future, and leaves us feeling more united by working towards our common goal. Also, having a regularly planned meeting time with each other gives us the appropriate time and place to have these conversations. We can enter the conversation mentally ready to talk about money.
Align your goals. You and your spouse are on the same team, and you both need to be able to vocalize what your specific financial aims are. While most people would agree that savings are important, you both need to decide what you are saving for. A down payment on a house? An international vacation? College tuition for your children? The healthiest couples are in agreement together about where they hold value.
Your Personal History with Money
Our personal history is the most influential force that determines our relationship with money. The money discussion can often become one that is heated and passionate because money holds power and meaning.
Relationship research John Gottman, PhD., says,“Arguments about money aren’t about money. They are about our dreams, our fears, and our inadequacies.” Money can represent luxury, power, or value, among other things. It also represents security, freedom, and the opportunity to achieve our dreams.
For example, fashionable, name-brand clothing could be important if you were teased in elementary school because your parents couldn’t afford to buy new clothes. Maybe paying extra for healthy, organic vegetables is a priority if you used to be overweight.
Arguments about money can often seem illogical because they are so tied up with these personal meanings. However, it is beneficial to use conflict about finances to understand how your partner came to be that way.
Don’t know how to approach this conversation with you partner? Here are some questions to open up the dialogue:
- What is your personal history with money? Is this different from your partner?
- What past experiences contribute to the way you view money?
- How do your finances make you feel?
The money talk can often feel like a vulnerable conversation. Don’t anticipate awkwardness. Trust is something that comes with consistent behavior over time. However you decide to build your financial future, build it together intentionally through honest and regular communication.
How do married couples handle finances? There is no one “right” way to manage your finances. Discover what is best for you and your spouse by talking honestly about your finances, goals, budget, retirement, and debt. Make a plan that honors both of your personal histories and hopes for the future.
How can we solve money problems in marriage? Be completely honest and do not hide any spending, big or small. Have no secrets, hold budget meetings, and achieve your financial goals together. You are on the same team!
How do I find a financial coach near me? Find one of Dave Ramsey’s highly qualified financial coaches or at the National Financial Educator’s Council. Financial counseling services may also be offered by education institutions, financial institutions, employee assistance programs, social service organizations, and religious organizations.
Mike Zhang. Founder of FamilyLifeShare