Ah, love and money. The sad truth is that while money is a bedrock of stability and happiness in a marriage, many couples find it far easier to discuss topics of faith and politics, and avoid talking about finances altogether. But when you’re married and sharing a life with someone, it’s the everyday things — daily conversations and habits — that can make or break a relationship.
Sherrian and Khaleef C. of the faith-centered personal blog KNS Financial live in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and have been married for 10 years. They’ve had a handful of spending habits that drove the other one crazy and have shared what they’ve done to curb their spending impulses and ultimately strengthen their relationship.
Start the season with a plan.
Sign up for the challenge that will put you in the holiday spirit, stress-free.
1. The “better to ask for forgiveness than permission” policy
Sherrian has a tendency to buy something on impulse that she’s had her eye on, only to tell Khaleef later. Because Sherrian knows that Khaleef is easy going and wouldn’t get upset, Sherrian took greater liberties to buy unnecessary items on a whim, such as a year’s supply of vacuum bags and kitchen gadgets that remain unopened.
“It was totally unfair and selfish of me, and did nothing to help us stay financially on track,” Sherrian said.
To curb this habit, Sherrian was upfront with Khaleef about her tendency to hide impulse buys from him and to accept that she can’t always have things when she wants them.
“I sincerely believe that ‘the little foxes spoil the vines,'” Sherrian said, quoting Solomon 2:15. “If I let the little things like that slip in, they can cause bigger problems later on.”
2. Enabling each other to indulge
It drives Sherrian nuts that they enable the other to indulge in unexpected purchases by rationalizing them to each other. For instance, while they aren’t huge spenders, they sometimes justify a purchase because it’s “good for their health.” In the past they’ve persuaded each other to buy exercise equipment such as recumbent bikes and weights, fully knowing that these weren’t necessary and were quite pricey.
While they haven’t mastered this quite yet, Sherrian and Khaleef are working toward sticking to their budget by talking each other down from impulse buys.
“Having the perspective of wanting long-term joy instead of short-term — and fleeting — satisfaction for each other has really helped,” Sherrian said.
3. Paying off the wrong things first
Sherrian would get supremely annoyed at Khaleef for trying to talk her out of paying off certain expenses when it would’ve made far more financial sense to focus their efforts elsewhere.
“I hated recurring payments so much I just wanted things gone right away that could be paid off in one shot,” Sherrian said.
For instance, paying off their auto insurance for the year with a single payment, when it would have been more financially savvy to focus on tackling interest-bearing credit cards.
“It wasn’t hard to get over this once I paid attention to the numbers,” Sherrian said.
4. Not including your spouse in managing the day-to-day finances
When Sherrian and Khaleef first married, Khaleef handled the couple’s finances because he was equally capable and passionate about it. One thing that annoys Sherrian is that he hasn’t made enough of an effort to include her in the daily management of their finances.
These days Sherrian handles the grocery shopping and household maintenance, and Khaleef is tasked with paying off their bills. And because Khaleef is the designated bill-payer, Sherrian is often in the dark about some areas of their budget. Without being looped in, she can’t take part in assessing whether they’re on track with their budget or help figure out which areas they need to adjust.
“Even though I know how important it is for her to be included,” Khaleef said, “and we’ve talked about managing our money together — and she has repeatedly asked — I haven’t made enough of an effort to follow through.”
To turn things around, they’ve mastered the online task manager Todoist®. To date it’s served as a great tool in helping them accomplish tasks, both large as small, that would otherwise fall through the cracks. They share folders on tasks they need to tackle together, and schedule a time to sit down go over their finances.
5. Letting their budget fall by the wayside
Sherrian has stayed on Khaleef’s case about sticking to the numbers with their budgets.
“We know that maintaining a budget is just an important tool to financial health,” Khaleef said. “And while there has been periods of success, there hasn’t been enough of consistent, disciplined action.”
To stay on track, they’ve been using more online tools such as Mint®, Excel® and Quicken® to be diligent savers. They’ve also put their budget in the cloud so they can both access that information and use it to make wiser decisions on future purchases.
brightpeak’s relationship and finance platform Together™ makes it easier for couples to stay on the same page about money. Create your free account today!
While the couple’s budgeting and spending habits aren’t perfect, they’ve made significant strides in communicating more clearly.
“Overall,” Sherrian said, “we support each other more, every day.”
Perfecting the money conversation and managing joint finances takes time. If you want to continue your journey to strengthen your relationship and money, take the Love & Money 7-day Couples’ Challenge. It’s a free email series brought to you by The Love & Money Project™, a new initiative by brightpeak to help couples grow stronger together by improving their relationship with money.
P.S. If you want to check out an online tool that will help you budget like Sherrian and Khaleef, check out the new Illuminate™app by brightpeak.