Ran across an interesting article in the New York Times today called I Say Spend. You Say No. We’re in Love.
It seems that someone somewhere did a research study to find out that married couples have a tendency to be opposites when it comes to their spending habits. That means someone actually took the time and money to come to a conclusion we already know!
Seriously, money issues are the number one reason for divorce in the United States (and likely around the world). Some people are savers while others are spenders. Dave Ramsey divides people into nerds and free-spirits.
However you want to divide people into categories, the fact is that when you get married you have effectively entered into a three-legged race with your spouse. Work together and you can be fast. Work against each other and you’re going down!
So how do you get together on your money without having a big fight?
First, you both have to be adults about it. Realize that you are in it together and that you probably have more common ground than it feels like. Lay out your short term and long term financial goals. As the old G.I. Joe cartoon stated, “knowing is half the battle!”
Once you know your goals, you have to track and evaluate your spending habits. Having a budget or spending plan is essential. But even if you can’t get that far, you can start asking one simply little question and it will set you free: “Is this the wise thing to do?” (I totally stole that from sermon series by Andy Stanley, but I don’t think he’ll mind.)
- Is it wise to buy a new car when we don’t have an emergency fund (or the cash to pay for the car!)?
- Is it wise to send the kids to a private school that costs as much as college tuition, when we have perfectly good public schools in our area?
- Is it wise to eat out as much as we do?
- Is it wise to invest for our retirement when we have loads of credit card debt?
- Is it wise to spend our emergency fund on a vacation to Hawaii?
- Is it wise to buy a house with no money down?
You can see that even under these questions, some conflict may still exist. One more rule will get you through: If you can’t agree with it and have peace, don’t do it.
There can be no “I told you so” statements later on. You’re either both in or you don’t do it.
After all, the preacher (and the Bible) state that once you get married, “now you are one”.
Act like it!
Full disclosure here: Even my lovely wife and I don’t agree on everything! Gasp! I’m a huge nerd (king of the nerds in fact) and she’s a free-spirit (channeling Woodstock or something). It takes a lot of work and a lot of time, but it can be done.