Marriage and Money: Agreeing on Large Purchases

Marriage and Money: Agreeing on Large PurchasesAs you get your budget under control, get out of debt, and build an emergency reserve, you will have increased cash flow.

With more money coming in, you will have the opportunity to make large purchases.

Question is, how do you decide on what to purchase first?

Let’s assume of course that you will save the money for the expense and will not use debt.

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How then do we agree with our spouse on a priority order on the purchases?

Invariably, you will have different ideas on what to buy.

One of you may want to save the money for a nice vacation while the other person wants to beef up the emergency reserve a little more.

Or one of you wants to do a home remodeling project that has been put off for a while, and the other person wants to buy a full entertainment system.

Here is an approach my wife and I use to come to an agreement about large purchases.

As you look at shared goals for this year, this might help you as well:

  • Make a list of all the potential expenses. Some examples include: vacation, car replacement, kitchen remodel, new couch, big screen TV.
  • Assign an estimated cost to each item.
  • Each person then goes down the list and assigns a priority (1 to 10) to each item.
  • Compare your priorities. Share with each other why each item is important.
  • Come up with a combined priority list.
    • Here is where the art of compromise comes in.
    • You are building a life together, so surely you can build a priority list together.
  • Total the amount required for all items. Based on your financial picture you might not get to all of them this coming year.
    • But you will get to the items that are important to both of you.
    • Now you know where to target your savings and you have a common set of goals.

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

Healthy finances lead to healthy marriages.

If you are not working with each other you are working against each other.

Try this method and let me know how it goes!

Marriage & Money: Winning by Working Together

Marriage and Money: Winning by Working TogetherWhen is the last time you and your spouse completed a major project working together?

My wife and I relocated to DFW just over 3 ½ years ago.

Before doing that we had to sell our previous home and we had some work to do.

Working Together to Sell a Home

And after owning that house for about 14 years, it was time for a few renovation projects: some fresh paint, a little work on the kitchen, replacing some outdated light fixtures, gardening, and general clean-up.

Some of the work we could do ourselves but for some items we wanted professional grade work.

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We had lots of work ahead of us, so being a project manager by trade and a detailed oriented “nerd” by birth, I put together a quick spreadsheet with an outline for the schedule and the budget that became the essence of our project plan.

But the real key to the success of this plan was that my wife and I worked together on the project.

We had to agree on how much we were prepared to spend on each item, we had to agree on the timeline for each project.

We also had to make decisions like choosing a paint color or the type of tile for the kitchen backsplash.

We had an objective and we had a plan so we had a common understanding.

After working the plan, the house looked great and it sold in 30 days!

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Working Together to Win with Money

Winning with your money also requires having a common understanding between spouses. You can only win by working together.

Regardless of what your income is and how much you may or may not know about managing your finances, you need to have shared goals and dreams.

You also need to have shared responsibility for doing what’s required to achieve those goals and dreams.

Since my wife and I started working together on our finances almost 9 years ago, we are winning with our money.

But in addition to that, we have achieved a level of communication and understanding in other areas of our marriage that we did not have before.

Here are just a few examples of items that require both spouses to be in agreement:

  • Working on your monthly budget. If you can’t talk about the day to day, month to month expenses, how will you decide on major purchases?
  • If you have children, how will you save for their college expenses? What will you teach them about money?
  • Major purchases. What constitutes a major expense (e.g., more than $300)? If you have more than one purchase you want to make, what’s the priority between them? Can you save for Christmas and also for replacing one of your vehicles?
  • What are your goals for retirement?
  • Is it time to upgrade and move to a bigger house?

God’s wisdom tells us that Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.” (Eccl 4:9).

Talk to each other. Determine what those shared dreams and goals are in your life.

Be honest about your fears and. Learn to listen and to trust one another.

Remember that as a married couple, you are supposed to be building a life together. That includes how you handle your money.

You can win with your money by working together. Start today!

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