There are a few topics every pastor on the planet will want to discuss with a young couple about to be married. One of those topics is finances. Why? Because the mentality of “what’s mine is yours” is foreign in our everyday culture. Due to this cultural norm, the most common arguments in marriage today are about money and/or sex. And while finances are a big part of pre-marriage counseling conversation, arguments remain. Hearing about “what’s mine is yours” and learning to live it out are two completely different things. Therefore, we wanted to provide a couple of tips for married couples in the area of finances. For the most part, we follow these tips within our own marriage and this has helped us keep our marriage relationship front and center through each and every day.
Tip #1: Only buy what you NEED first.
This seems quite simple, but there are a high percentage of individuals who receive their paycheck and have it spent before it ever clears the bank. Oftentimes, the check isn’t merely spent on food, clothing and shelter. Be it a kindle fire, new music, books, designer boots, makeup…you name it. If someone wants it and they just received their paycheck, they’re probably going to go get it. If a husband and wife both do this, it will inevitably lead to an argument. Suddenly, finances are tight and a, “How was your day?” conversation leads to a, “You bought what?!” argument. Both parties point fingers at one another thinking their spouses paycheck was going to cover their needs. Each has a mentality of, “I earned it, so I should be able to buy what I want.” Sorry folks, this just isn’t the case. You earned it, but the marriage relationship is special, remember? What’s yours is also your spouses…this means your body, and your finances. You may have earned it, but your spouse has equal rights to it. What you just spent belongs to your spouse just as much as it belongs to you.
The question now is, “What if I really do want something and we can afford it?”
Tip #2: Put off all minor WANT purchases for 48 hours.
Everybody has wants. Depending on your financial situation, a “want” item can be anything from $10 to $200. It can be anything from a book, to a video game, to clothing, etc. Our advice: Wait at least 24 hours, if not 48 before deciding to move forward. Putting in this little bit of extra time gives you the opportunity to ensure you have no surprise bills coming in the mail (dentist, doctor visits, or credit card receipts for month-old car trouble) and gives you the time to reflect on whether you really want it or not. Surprisingly, a 48 hour delay often leads to a mentality of, “I’ve been just fine without having _____________ for the past couple of days. I guess I didn’t really want it that bad after all.” This helps keep money in the bank, and readily available for unforeseen circumstances that may be right around the corner.
Tip #3: Put off all major WANT purchases for 3-6 months:
Again, depending on your financial decision, a major financial decision could be any number of things. For some it’s a new car. For others, it’s something as simple as a new washing machine, dishwasher or other appliance. Years ago in our marriage, it was a $750 piece of computer software. Sometimes these items can be a need, but many times, an old car or appliance can be repaired for a fraction of the cost, and electronics are guaranteed to go down in price as newer models come out. If it is something you really want, try going the repair route first, and then reevaluate in a few months. If it’s something you still believe you and your family want, then return back and purchase it later. Chances are, 3-6 months later it’s a much easier decision. You’ll either decide you can live without it, or you’ll find you’re in a much better financial place to move forward. Either way, the waiting time is well worth it.
What tips do you have to ensure finances are not a point of arguments within your marriage relationship?