Money problems in a marriage are one of the most cited reasons for divorce. Like most marriage problems, money problems arise from a breakdown in communication or lack thereof. If you want a marriage that thrives, you have to get your financial house in order with your spouse. Money talks should not be avoided and you must have financial goals as a couple. Follow these 4 steps to get on the same page with your spouse and thrive financially.
Step 1: Establish Your Target: Dream & Goal Setting
If you don’t have a target to aim at, you are guaranteed to miss it. In order to succeed financially, you need to have goals and dreams. You need to define what financial success would look like to you and as a couple. Schedule a meeting with your spouse to dream and set goals. This meeting can be as extensive as a Couple’s Goal Setting Retreat (learn more here) or something you do at your home in a couple of hours.
Some Questions to Cover in this Meeting:
What are your dreams?
Why are those dreams important to you?
How can your spouse help you achieve those dreams?
What do you need to do in order to achieve your dreams?
What needs to change to be able to achieve these dreams?
Objective of This Step:
You should end this meeting with clear long-term and short-term financial goals that both spouses agree on. These financial goals should be in line with your dreams. You also have some initial ideas on what you need to change and how both spouses can help each other in working towards these goals.
I strongly recommend doing a Couple’s Goal Setting Retreat for this step. You can learn more about it here.
Step 2: Focus Your Aim & Fire: Transparency & Accountability
If you are aiming at a blurry target it will be hard to hit. A lack of transparency in your finances with your spouse is like aiming at a blurry target and will only end in trouble. You need complete transparency which means you have a joint checking account and both spouses have access to all financial accounts. There is no hiding anything here.
In this step, you are also creating a family budget. Your budget is the means to tell your money where to go and track your progress toward the goals you set in Step 1. Depending on your financial situation, it does not necessarily have to be restrictive. It should, however, be in line with your financial goals. The budget makes both of you accountable to your financial goals.
Objective of This Step:
Transparency with access to all financial accounts and spending gives both spouses a clear picture of their personal finances. Establishing a family budget gives you a plan and path to reach your financial goals. This makes it easier for each spouse to support and hold the other accountable to what you agreed was important to you in Step 1 when a spouse has a moment of weakness. We all have moments of weakness where we want to deviate from the plan when it gets hard or when we see that bright shiny object we “just have to have”. This is when the other spouse can step in and bring accountability and rational thought back into the picture and keep you on course toward your financial goals.
After you’ve created your initial budget, have weekly meetings with your spouse to review how your actual spending is tracking toward your budget. Put these meetings on your calendar, preferably the same day and time every week so it becomes a habit and routine.
Step 3: Upgrade Your Firepower: Growth & Transformation
If you dreamed big enough in Step 1, you probably realize you are not the person you need to be in order to achieve your dreams and goals. If you don’t think this, you did not dream big enough in Step 1. Go back and redo Step 1.
You have to be constantly working on improving yourself little by little, day-by-day to reach your goals and dreams. When you improve yourself, you are upgrading your firepower. When you upgrade your firepower, you increase your earning potential. You are able to make more money which makes achieving your goals in Step 1 possible.
Objective of This Step:
In this step, you are doing the things necessary to increase your income. Increasing your income is the fastest path towards achieving your financial goals. There will always be limits to how much you can reduce your expenses. However, there are no limits to what your income can be. You have to be dedicated to constantly improving yourself if you want your income to increase. This is not a one-time thing you do. It is an ongoing process that you do every day.
Brainstorm ways you could increase your income. What needs to change for you to do what you came up with during your brainstorming session? Start by focusing on your daily habits. What habits of yours do you need to change? Maybe it is reading a book instead of endlessly scrolling on social media? Maybe it is taking that class at night instead of binge-watching Netflix?
Step 4: Practice Makes Progress: Repeat
No matter what your job is, you did not do it once and were all of the sudden an expert at it. You most likely had to do it over and over again before you were even proficient in it. These steps aren’t something you do once and everything works out. You have to continually do them every year, every month, and every day.
Reevaluate your dreams and goals once a year with your spouse. Life happens. Circumstances change. What was important to you before may no longer be as important as something else is now. So make it a priority to do Step 1 once a year preferably around the same time each year. However, Steps 2 and 3 are monthly, weekly, and daily habits.
Money problems in a marriage are the result of a communication problem. Following these 4 steps opens up communication about money and goals in your marriage. It makes communicating about finances a priority in your marriage. Married couples have a big advantage over single individuals when it comes to winning with money. You have a built-in accountability partner. However, if you are not on the same page with your spouse in regards to your finances you will lose your accountability partner for good. These 4 steps will help you and your spouse get on the same page. Now talk to your spouse and schedule your dream and goal-setting meeting and start Step 1.