Money Management: Lessons Learned in 12 Years of Marriage

Money Management: Lessons Learned in 12 Years of Marriage

I am a blessed man. Today I am celebrating 12 years of marriage with my precious wife Stacey.

I know that as Scripture says, she is a blessing from the Lord (“House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.” – Prov 19:14).

I believe one of the reasons our marriage works well because we have learned to work together with our money.

It wasn’t always that way but I hope the lessons we have learned that can help you as well.

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1) Don’t carry the burden alone.

When we first got married, I took care of paying all the bills and of managing our debt.

My wife knew very little about our monthly obligations and our level of debt. She was ok with that for a while and so was I.

But eventually the financial stress became too much for me. After 18 months of marriage I knew something had to change. We needed help.

It is not healthy to be in marriage where you are not working together in all areas of your life. And arguments and stress about money are the leading cause of divorce.

Once we decided to start working together on our money, things began to improve.

2) Both partners have a voice and a vote.

It is critical that both of you have an input into the money decisions.

You may have different strengths and different perspectives but you have to get to a plan that it is agreeable to both of you.

In our case, I am very detailed oriented so I am the one who prepares our monthly budget. But the budget is not final until both of us agree to it.

My wife has great insights into our financial situation and I have learned to trust her wisdom.

Since we started working together on our finances almost 10 years ago, we have not missed a monthly budget committee meeting.

The budget gives us an objective way to make joint decisions about our money.

Our ability to communicate about money matters has drawn us closer in every other aspect of our marriage.

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3) Stay the Course

As I mentioned above, my wife and I have been working on our finances together for almost 10 years now.

In doing anything for a long period of time, you are going to have ups and downs. You are going to experience victories and setbacks.

We had to work hard to get out of debt. We had emergencies along the ways which slow down our progress. We had to make sacrifices and learn to wait for what we wanted.

No matter what, you have to stay together and stay with the plan. You have to stay the course.

“Many marriages would be better if the husband and the wife clearly understood that they are on the same side.”
Zig Ziglar

Manly Money Management

Manly Money ManagementRecently I listened to a sermon and the topic was, “what are men supposed to be like?

How are men supposed to act? That subject alone could be the subject of many sermons!

The preacher used the following scripture passage to address the question:

13 Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
14 Let all that you do be done in love.
I Corinthians 16:13-14 (NASB

So this post is dedicated to my fellow men whether you are single or married.

I want to talk about how men are supposed to act with money.

I want us to discuss the subject of manly money management.

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If you are married, you are in the leadership role already by God’s design

If you are single, you need to learn to take control of your finances now so you can be prepared to lead your family.

So let’s unpack this verse and see how it could be applied to help us achieve manly money management:

1. Be on the Alert

Some other translations indicate to “be on guard” or “to be watchful“. When it comes to your money, how well are you keeping track of it?

Do you balance your checkbook every month? Do you keep track of your expenses?

Do you plan how the money will be spent ahead of time? Do you have a good understanding of your investments?

You need to pay attention to your finances. (Proverbs 27:23)

2. Stand Firm in the Faith

The idea here is stand firm in what you believe, in the Word of God, the sure foundation of life.

The Bible has a lot to say about money and possessions.

In His Word, God has laid out the best way to manage the money He has entrusted to us.

You and I would be foolish to ignore His advice. (I Chronicles 29:11, 14-16)

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3. Act like Men, be Strong

Men are supposed to take the leadership role at home. This means you lead the discussion on money as well.

Where is your family going? What are your goals?

You can’t abandon your wife financially by leaving her alone with the burden of managing your finances.

You have to be actively involved in money matters. And guess what: if there is a need to work extra hours or take a second job, you are up.

You take the lead in making the necessary sacrifices.

It is your job to make sure your family is well taken care of financially (I Timothy 5:8).

4. Let all that you do be done in Love

Even though you are in the leadership role that does not make you a dictator. Your wife has an equal vote.

You need to work together on your money, make decisions together. Love your family well by saving for emergencies, retirement, and college.

Finally, love your family well by taking care of what happens after you are gone. Make sure you have the proper level of life insurance and that you complete a will.

Love them well to the end. (I Cor 13:4-7)

So What?

What do you think? We men can get worked up about a lot of things in life that have no bearing on the destiny of our family.

We can get really excited about our toys (cars, electronics, and man caves) and watching our sports.

But what if we were at least half as passionate about what happens with our finances and our families?

Imagine that for a moment. Are you ready to man-up with your finances?

Are you ready for manly money management? If so, let me know, I can I help.

“There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.”
Ronald Reagan, 40th U.S. President

5 Personal Finance Gifts for Your Wife on Valentine’s Day

This is a special post for my fellow men. You may be racking your brain on what to get your wife for Valentine’s Day.

Have I got a deal for you! I believe the best Valentine’s Day gift is a good financial plan.

With that in mind, here are 5 Personal Finance Gifts for Your Wife on Valentine’s Day. Enjoy!

5 Personal Finance Gifts for Your Wife

5 Mistakes Couples Make With Money

5 Mistakes Couples Make with MoneyAre you married or are you planning to be married soon? How would you like to avoid the pitfalls couples typically face in money management?

If you are married, the only way to win with your money is to work together with your spouse.

Differences and arguments over the handling of money are one of the leading causes of divorce. Healthy finances lead to healthy marriages.

You can take some steps to ensure you and your spouse have a great financial future. You can avoid these 5 Common Mistakes Couples Make with Money:

1. Your pronouns have not changed

You still have discussions such as “my income” or “your debt”. It is very likely that one of you makes more money than the other spouse. It is also quite possible one of you brought more debt to the marriage. That does not matter.

After you say “I do” you should change your pronouns from “my” and “yours” to “we” and “ours”. Your sentences should sound like this: “We have debt” and “We have a household income”.

If you are not working on your finances as a team you can’t expect to win.

2. You have not combined your finances

You are keeping separate savings and checking accounts. This is a reflection of how you view the finances. You may think is wise to “split the bills” so you can do what you like with the rest of “your” income.

The reality is, this is a sign that there is no trust built between you and your spouse when it comes to money.

Unless there is a major issue (such as addictions to drugs/alcohol/gambling), you need to open the books and then combine the books. Put it all on the table.

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3. You don’t work on a budget together

In order to win with money, you need to live on a budget. In order to win with money as a couple, you need to work on a budget together.

One of you will be more equipped to prepare the budget every month, but both of you must have a voice and a vote on your monthly spending plan.

When you agree on a budget you are agreeing on what happens with your money. It gives you an objective way to handle the finances every month.

4. You don’t make major financial decisions together

This situation may arise when one of the spousal partners “feels” they should be able to just buy what they want, when they want without input from the other partner.

The husband may feel entitled to purchasing a brand new car without input from the wife. The wife may feel entitled to spending $2K on a birthday party for the kids without checking with the husband.

In either case, the lines of communication are broken. There is nothing wrong with spending money as long as a) you have the cash to spend and b) you are in agreement with your spouse.

5. You don’t have shared goals for the future

What’s more important? Paying off the house or saving for retirement? What about saving for the kids’ college education? Or what do we teach our kids about money and how do we do it?

If you have not discussed your fears and your goals for the future with each other, now it would be a good time. You need common, shared goals for your money.

You are building a life together; surely you can work on your money and your future together.

In order to win with your money you have to be honest with each other, patient with each other, and you have to work with each other.

There is no other way to win with your finances. If you are not working with each other you are working against each other. You need each other.

Start working together today!

9 Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.
10 For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NASB)

 Question: What’s keeping you from working with your spouse on your finances?

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Marriage and Money: You Need a Financial Management System

Couple Working on their Finances together.

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As I have stated previously, if you are married, you need to be working with your spouse on money matters in order to have success.

You should no longer be discussing “yours” or “mine” but “our” money, “our” finances.

When you work together with your spouse on your finances, you are demonstrating:

  • Respect for your Spouse. You are saying that you respect your spouse’s capability and intellect to handle money.
  • Trust in your Spouse. You are saying that you know they have integrity and honesty and can be trusted with money matters.
  • Humility before your Spouse. You are honestly acknowledging you don’t know everything and that you can use some help in dealing with your finances.

When you deal with your spouse with respect, trust, and humility in the management of your finances, you will reach a new level of intimacy in your relationship.

What’s the practical side of working together on your finances? In order to handle your finances well, you need a financial management system.

And the best way to demonstrate respect, trust, and humility with our spouses is to have a system where both you have equal access to the information and equal ability to handle and act on the information.

Now, it is quite possible that one of the spouses routinely handles most of the load of managing the finances (e.g., preparing the budget, paying the bills, etc.). But what happens if that spouse is not available for an extended period of time?

This situation could be due to an illness, being away from the home for work or family matters, or in the worst possible scenario, that spouse dies. What happens then? Can the other spouse pick-up the load?

Again, both spouses need access to all the financial information and the ability to act on that information.

Here are the key elements of your financial management system:

1. How Do We Pay the Monthly Bills?

Your monthly budget should tell you where the money is going before the month begins. However, both you and your spouse need to also know the following with respect to your monthly expenses:

  • What are our monthly bills?
  • When are the payments due for each bill and when are the payments made for each bill?
  • What is the name and contact information for the payees for each bill?
  • How are the payments made (e.g., paid through your on-line banking system, regular check via mail, etc.)
  • How are we tracking monthly expenses?

It does not matter if your bill payment system is the old fashioned checkbook register, an Excel spreadsheet, a software program like Quicken, or an on-line program like Mint.com or YNAB.

It does not matter if it is a combination of some of these tools; the point is that both spouses need the access and the ability to use the system to pay your monthly bills.

2. What are Our Assets and Liabilities?

Besides being able to handle the monthly bills, both spouses need the ability to access the information on all your assets (what you own) and liabilities (what you owe).

You both need to be able to ascertain what your current financial position is at all times.

Assets

You need the documentation on each of these asset accounts listed below. If there is paper documentation make sure you both know where it is stored.

You both should be able to access all the details and statements on the following:

  • Checking and Savings Accounts
  • Investment Accounts
  • Retirement Accounts
  • Medical Savings Accounts (e.g., Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs))
  • Home Appraisals

In today’s world, much of this information is kept on-line, so make sure you both know where to go get the information and how to access it (provider’s web sites, userids, passwords, account numbers, etc.).

Liabilities

It is critical that you also know what your financial responsibilities are at all times.

You need to know what the current balances are as well as the record of payments made.

  • Credit Cards
  • Car Loans
  • Student Loans
  • Personal Loans
  • Medical Bills
  • Mortgage Statements

Again, much of the information today is kept on-line so you both need the access information. But if you also have a physical filing system, make sure you both know where it is kept.

3. Where are our Key Household/Estate Documents?

Finally, both spouses should be able to access these key household/estate documents at all times. Some examples of these documents are:

  • Deed/Title information on your personal home and any other real estate you own own.
  • Insurance Policies (Life/Auto/Health/Home/ID Theft/Long Term Disability/Long Term Care)
  • Tax Returns
  • Credit Reports
  • Wills/Trusts

Regardless of how you implement it, your household needs a financial management system. And if you are married, both spouses should have the ability to access and act on that management system.

Take sometime today to make sure you love each other well by taking the step to create or revise your system.

What is your financial management system? How are you and your spouse sharing the load? Let me know!

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