Marriage and Money

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by Bethany and Scott Palmer

The minivan was loaded down with suitcases, sunscreen and disposable cameras. One thing Mary and Bob forgot to bring to Disneyland, though, was financial communication.

Mary had convinced Bob to take this family vacation. They made plans for the trip, but in their minds, the plans looked different.

Bob decided the family would carry sandwiches into the park and would most certainly not buy gifts and souvenirs. Unfortunately, he didn't let his wife know.

Mary hoped they could enjoy their vacation without worrying about a tight budget, but she didn't voice her expectations to Bob, either.

Because of their lack of communication, the entire family was miserable, and the main goal of enjoying a fun, memorable vacation was thwarted. If Bob and Mary had only known how to be more honest and open about their financial decisions, their costly trip to California could have been worth every penny.

This story is all too common. In fact, most couples are able to recount similar experiences of poor financial communication. Talking about money doesn't always come naturally, but the following tips can make the process a little easier:

Identify each other's money personality.

Your money personality is the way you naturally tend to handle money. It is not a skill, such as making a budget or balancing a checkbook, but rather a predisposition toward finances. For example, you might be a spender, saver, risk taker or security seeker. As you identify money personalities, avoid making value judgments. No personality is more desirable than another, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Do a money dump.

Lay out all your thoughts and concerns about money. Talk about what each person is bringing to the table as far as debt, spending habits, future financial goals, and so on. If one person is ruining your credit score, address the issue. If one of you is frustrated at having to report to the other about each coffee purchase, talk about it. In short, get it all out.

Have frequent money huddles.

You need to talk regularly about your finances. Even if one person is managing the money, both spouses need to give input about budgeting and spending. It is also wise to set a limit on how much each of you can spend without the other's approval. This keeps you both accountable and reduces surprises on bank statements. As your financial communication improves, money woes and marital tension can be sent packing, creating a more blissful home.


Bethany and Scott Palmer are financial advisers and the authors of First Comes Love, Then Comes Money. For more financial resources from the Palmers, visit themoneycouple.com.

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2010 issue of Thriving Family magazine and was titled "Money, Money, Money." Copyright © 2010 by Bethany and Scott Palmer. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.


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