Why should marriage and money work? For starters, it’s no secret that one of the biggest reasons couples get divorced is that they can not agree on how to spend the money. There are certain subjects that you should always avoid at the dinner table and the talk of money is right up there. Yet, those risky subjects are the very same subjects that cause families to split. At FrugalMommas we care about the entire health and wellness of the family and that’s why we want to talk to you today about the subject of marriage and money. Rather, perhaps it’s best to talk about money in marriage since the two belong together and not apart.
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When Marriage and Money Don’t Work
The first thing that both you and your partner need to understand is that money doesn’t have to be scary. Back in my school days, I was awful at math. After years of failing grades in the subject, I decided I didn’t even want to bother with calculations. It was easier to avoid math altogether since I was obviously going to get it wrong. As an adult, this translated to not adding up the cost of what was in the shopping cart. In addition, I lacked the understanding that I must be able to take the money in the bank to pay for what was in that shopping cart of mine. What’s more, is I assumed just because there was money in the bank it was money that was free to use.
I wasn’t an emotional shopper but I was ignorant on many levels of finances. I was lazy and didn’t want to take the time to figure things out. Worse yet, I thought I was incapable of ever figuring it out.
At the age of 20, my husband and I had many bills in collections. I was making minimum wage and was upset at the hours I had to work. He was working his tail off frustrated that the money he was making wasn’t enough to get us out of his mother’s basement. Then life happened.
We became pregnant with our first born. For the first time ever it felt like we were going to be adults. Worse yet, with others depending on us. The pregnancy continued and so did the bills. Still, others warned that the biggest bills were still to come. We began to calculate how much a baby would cost. How many diapers would we be going through (can anyone really predict this?), how much food a child would eat (yes we tried predicting that too) and how much money that food would cost. That number that we came up with for just one year of a baby’s life was more than the two of us made combined.
I was about 45 minutes from my house one day. My gas tank was low but I also needed to buy prenatal vitamins. So, I went inside of a local store and spent my time searching for the perfect prenatal vitamin. When I got up to the cash register my card was declined. Every card I had was declined. Immediately I called my husband upset, “what’s going on?”. He then told me that we had no money in the bank. Nothing. Not even enough to cover the vitamins and I still needed gas to get home. I was pregnant, emotional and upset. I was furious. I was confused. Luckily I was able to find about $2 in change and used that to help me get home.
The problems were far from over. You see, when I got home I was a hot-tempered pregnant woman upset that we had no money. My husband was a tired man upset that I had spent all the money and didn’t make more money than what I did. He said I needed to work more hours, work after the baby was born and ask for a raise. I wanted to be a stay at home mom and with the morning sickness being so strong the last thing that I wanted to do was work more hours. I especially didn’t want to ask for a raise, how embarrassing would that be?
When It Seems Others Have Marriage And Money Figured Out
Every couple in my life struggled with money. It was the only way of life that I knew. My husband was quick to point out that he knew couples who were not struggling with money. As we borrowed cars we became envious of our friends buying cars and in turn became mad at one another for the lack of money. My friends could go to the store and go shopping for clothes, they could spend hundreds of dollars and I didn’t have $20 to spend. How was that possible? What were their tricks?
As tension grew between us it became apparent that we needed out of his mother’s basement so we set out looking to buy a house. We weren’t able to get approved for a loan on our own so we asked a family member to co-sign. This was going to be the answer. We were going to move out on our own and life was going to be much better. This man, as wise as can be, told us he would not co-sign with us because he didn’t trust us to pay him back. Talk about hurt feelings. Still, he continued to give us financial advice. He told us to continue renting, to work harder than we were and to save up our money. Worse yet, he told us to pay off all of our debt, even the debt that we didn’t think was a big deal.
Here I am years later sitting in an office as a work at home mom. My husband is still that hard working man. I am no longer that entitled young woman without a clue. Those friends of ours who bought houses and cars have long been divorced. We don’t have any bills in collections. There is little debt left on our credit card, we only have the one. We get cash discounts on almost every large purchase that we make. Money is no longer something that we don’t understand, we regularly hold conversations on the topic. When things get tight we sell items and work harder. We work together. It’s not my money. It’s not his money. It’s not my spending. It’s not his spending. It’s ours. His debt is my debt, my debt is his debt.
Money can easily break a marriage, typically it’s the lack of money that will do so.
5 Tips For Making Marriage And Money Work Together
1. Don’t Hide Purchases
2. Don’t Separate Money From One Another
3. Separate Money Out From One Item To Another (i.e. rent money and grocery money)
4. Talk About It
5. Don’t Take Disagreements Personal