Husbands and wives can be a blessing to each other … or a screaming disaster. Part of it has to do with how they work together (or not) when it comes to money.
I knew a couple more than 35 years ago who engaged in what I dubbed “Marital Guerilla Warfare.” Les and Barb were financially okay … both working, making good incomes, squarely in the middle class. Or at least they should have been.
Instead, they kept each other in a perpetual state of financial devastation and emotional frustration.
Here is an example I witnessed personally. Les got up one Saturday morning and headed out to a rod & gun show. He returned in the early afternoon … with a new bass boat and motor in tow. At around $3,000 (1972 dollars), that was one humongous impulse buy!
But wait, there’s more! Barb took one look at that bass boat and headed out the door. When she returned home several hours later, they had purchased several thousand dollars of new carpeting for their home.
And so it went for years between them, this game of Marital Guerilla Warfare. For all I know, they’re still at it, working single handedly to stimulate the economy.
They’re not alone. Many couples play games with money. Money becomes a weapon. I’ve seen spite spending, secret saving, secret spending and more. Worst of all, this is not all that rare. According to a 2007 PayPal survey, 82% of respondents say they have hidden purchases from their partner.
In the end, they usually end up destroying each other … and themselves.
What to do:
1. Remember that marriage is an economic relationship … a personal business partnership. You must actively manage your family’s financial affairs…not leave them to chance. Most of all, by “joining forces” in a cooperative partnership, you and your spouse can achieve common goals.
2. Analyze and attempt to understand each other’s attitude toward money. Does one of you like to blow a windfall … the other sock it away? Does one of you feel comfortable with a full debt load … the other nervous about a $100 credit card charge? Exchange points of view. The better you understand each other’s thinking, the more effectively you can work together to build a financially solid relation¬ship.
3. Share money decisions and responsibilities.
Studies have shown that couples are more likely to remain happy and together when they both take an active role in managing the family’s finances. This requires both of you to come to grips with the financial facts, which in turn leads to increased under¬standing and cooperation on money matters.
4. Identify mutual goals … and then write them down. This imposes order on all other financial decisions and helps you map out a strategic game plan for achieving them. Where do you both want to be one year, two years, and ten years from now? In a nicer home? With children who are debt-free college grads? Retired in comfort at age 60? If you have trouble reaching agreement, look for compromises. Example: One likes to flash the cash … the other likes to stash it. Solution: Save and invest X dollars each month; then blow the rest … go out and have fun, and do it TOGETHER.
Want to learn more about the role of money in your relationship? Check out The Back to Basics Book of Money! A Couple’s Guide to Financial Peace. The book contains 10 valuable Couple Money Skills. Plus, the Back to Basics Book of Money Workbook (which dovetails with the main text) offers 31 practical, hands-on Wealth Builder activities that can help you and your partner build financial and domestic stability. Both the book and workbook, which retail for $31.98 plus S & H, are available at the Family Finances Conference Center website for $27.99 total.
The Family Finances Conference Center tailors programs to the unique and individual needs of client organizations and their members and employees, based on the principles of the book and workbook set, The Back to Basics Book of Money! A Couple’s Guide to Financial Peace.
For more information, contact me at the Family Finances Conference Center by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or my direct phone line (920-559-3722).
Family Finances Conference Center
204 Lakeview Drive
Algoma, WI 54201