What’s the biggest financial stressor in your marriage? Is it student loans? The Amazon purchases? The fact that they don’t seem to care as much as you do? Money is a tricky thing. We need it to live, but growing up, we never really learned how to handle it well. Two people take their bad habits and lack of knowledge into marriage, and it’s a recipe for disaster.
So, what do we do? Some of us bury our heads in the sand. We don’t know there’s a better way, so we just resign ourselves to the idea that it’s always gonna be like this. Others go looking for answers, but who do you listen to? Dave Ramsey? Suze Orman? Some random YouTuber?
When Trent and I got married we couldn’t have been more financially different. Trent was responsible. He had a house and spent less than he earned. I… was over on my lease and still had three months before I could turn it in. We were gifted The Total Money Makeover at our wedding, and that set us on a 10-year journey to debt freedom.
It wasn’t always easy.
You can read more about our personal story here, but just know that getting on the same page about our finances was challenging. It was also worth it. I don’t know what you’re dealing with personally, but I know that with God, you and your spouse can turn things around. Here’s where we would suggest you start.
Marriage + Money: 5 Tips for a Healthy Relationship
1. Combine your finances.
If you’re married, “his, mine, and ours” should be removed from your vocabulary. The Bible is clear. When two people get married they become one. We believe that means, amongst other things, financially. If you don’t believe me, just do a quick Google search for “Should we combine our finances?” Even non-Christians recommend it.
Now, it may seem scary. Combining finances means that no longer is there my debt and your debt. All debt becomes ours. However, combining finances also means that no longer is there my money and your money. All income becomes ours. When you’re working together to pay off debt, give to your church, and save for your next home it strengthens your marriage. Because you’re working as a team.
2. Set financial goals together.
Now that your finances are combined, it’s time to set some goals. Goal setting and dreaming together about the future is a great way to strengthen your marriage!
If you’re in debt:
Grab a couple of coffees, and talk through Art Rainer’s 8 Money Milestones. Decide when you’re going to hit the first milestone and reward yourselves when you do. Make a plan for the second milestone and decide on a reward for when that’s accomplished. Just for clarity, we’re not suggesting you reward yourselves with a $3000 vacation after you save $1500. Go out for dessert together. Rewards don’t have to be extravagant. The cheaper the better, especially when you’re still in debt.
If you’re out of debt:
Plan a weekend getaway and dream big! If you recently paid off your debt you may find yourself a little lost. That’s what happened to us. We had spent so much time with one main goal – get out of debt – that we didn’t know what to do once the debt was gone.
Talking together about what you’re passionate about, and listening to books like Simple Money, Rich Life will be so helpful in getting you to think about what’s next. What would it look like to double the amount of money you give away? Which organizations would you give it to? What could you do with the extra money that isn’t going to debt anymore? Is it time to start a business? Fund college for your kids? Plan a special trip?
Whatever stage you’re at, knowing what you’re working towards will help you stick to the next step – your spending plan.
3. Create a spending plan (and stick to it).
Have you ever gone to bed thinking, “I wasted so much time today!”? When we lack boundaries we end up doing a lot of things that don’t matter, and at the end of the day, we’re full of regret. The same is true of our money.
We don’t have to have a budget… ehem… a spending plan. But odds are, if we don’t have guard rails for our money we’ll just end up wasting it. A spending plan says, “This is what I get to spend money on, but this is my limit.” A common misconception is that setting spending limits will feel restrictive, and truth be told, it may feel like that for a while.
However, once you get used to your limits you’ll find a great deal of freedom. You still get to spend. You just keep yourself from overspending. No longer will you be a slave to your impulses. You’ll be free to give, save, and spend. And not feel regret at the end of the day.
4. Be generous with your money.
Setting personal goals and sticking to a plan is great, but it can also make you a bit selfish. We know because it happened to us. Working toward paying off our debt, saving to buy our car, planning for our vacation. Part of the reason we get ourselves into financial trouble is because we’re only focused on what we want. If we stay focused on ourselves as we work our way out of debt we never really get to the root.
Creating a spending plan can help you be better with your money, but it won’t necessarily deal with your selfishness. As Christians, we need to remember our money is not our own. We’re just managing what God has entrusted to us, and the most important thing we can do with our money is honor God with it. A big part of honoring God is using our money to help others.
Here are some generosity ideas:
- If you decide to make an extra principal payment on your mortgage each month, then every 4th month give that extra payment away to a cause you’re passionate about.
- If you’re not giving to your church, set aside a percentage of your income for that purpose. Already giving? Maybe it’s time to up it.
- When you’re creating your budget, add in a line item for generosity. Use it to randomly bless people.
Brainstorm some ideas with your spouse, and make sure you add generosity to your spending plan.
5. Get financial help.
Sometimes couples get stuck because they can’t seem to get on the same page. People reach out to counselors to help with their marriage relationship when they can’t step outside of themselves to see what needs to be done. The same can be said about finances.
Asking a third party for help doesn’t show weakness. It actually shows a great deal of wisdom and strength. If you don’t have someone in your life that you can talk to, email us! We’ll be happy to help however we can.
And don’t feel bad. Over half of the United States population lives paycheck to paycheck and couldn’t pay cash for an emergency costing $1000. If that’s you you’re totally normal, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Because there’s a better way,
Trent and Sarah
QUESTION: What tip that we shared was the most helpful? Did we miss something? Let us know 👇
Check out the other blogs in this marriage series here: How to Improve Your Marriage and Make it Stronger
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