(The following is a transcription from a video Linda and I recorded. Please excuse any typos or errors.)
There’s something that we do with our money that has really helped our marriage. And, we know it can help your’s too.
This change was a pretty unlikely candidate. I don’t think most people would suspect this. I mean, we didn’t.
We’re really building this up and leading you on. And the unlikely money change that helped our marriage is… Drum roll, please… a budget.
Before you skip this article and run- stay with us. Stay with us, hear us out. Let us explain a couple of reasons why our marriage was helped by having a budget.
If you would rather watch our discussion on Youtube, you can do so here:
You know, as well as I do, that money is a very divisive thing in a marriage, or it can be. You’ve probably heard the stats that, 50% of people who get married end up in divorce. And of the majority of them, it’s about money. That’s the reason for so much financial strife and struggle.
So many of us in our marriages don’t like talking about money with our spouses. We want to hide stuff. We want to have our own financial secrets from our spouses. And so all that to say, there’s just a lot of problems that can arise from not being in unity about money. A budget helps you, when done right, get in unity with your marital finances.
Our Fascinating Discovery
In our case, this was something that was just fascinating for us to discover. That this silly little thing called a budget helped us get in unity about our money, but that it also affected all these other areas of our marriage.
It gets you on the same page. And when it’s time to spend money, a lot of times you don’t even have to ask the other spouse because if the money is there, it is available for spending. A budget makes it that there are fewer decisions that need to be made. Therefore, we found, there’s fewer fights. By having a budget, we greatly reduce the number of money fights we were having.
One of our big advantages of having a budget, is that we each get our own personal spending money each month. It doesn’t matter what silly little thing I want to spend my money on, my wife does not care. And, vice versa. If she spends money on something, I don’t care as long as it’s within her spending money limit.
Separate Spending Money Accounts
Since creating our budget, and giving each of us a budget category for spending money, there’s never a fight about what we spend. Which is just really amazing, because then I can be as frivolous as I want with my money and I my wife can buy as many Chick-fil-A milkshakes that she wants.
But the difference is before we had a budget, our spending money was all in one big pot just sitting in our checking account. And if Linda runs and buys, 27 Chick-fil-A milkshakes in a month, then I’d be like, “Girl, what’s up? Why do you spend all of our money here on milkshakes?” Now, when she’s spending in her own spending money account, there’s a set limit. She can spend all of it up to that limit and I don’t care.
What this has also done is Linda doesn’t care if I see her with the milkshake now. In the past when I was like, “Why are you spending all our money on milkshakes,” she would start hiding the milkshakes. And once you start hiding things in your marriage, it’s a bad idea. It’s a bad precedent. Things aren’t going in a good direction.
That’s why having a budget to me, is one of the lifesaving marriage techniques that everyone should know about.
Being In Unity And Communication
What was so surprising to me is that having unity in our finances trickled over into other areas of our marriage. Just by getting in unity on this one thing, it affected a whole bunch of other areas that we have in unity.
Do you know why I think that might be? Because talking about money is one of the most difficult things to talk about. And if you can communicate, it will make some of the other easier topics a breeze to talk about. It really hones in your communication with each other.
Let’s talk about what we have found is a healthy way to talk to each other about money. We’ve both made mistakes within our budget. And giving each other a lot of grace and realizing that we both had made mistakes, allows us to approach each other with humility. This also allows us to give our own self grace.
Instead of saying, “Why did you spend money on this? I thought we had talked about this and we weren’t going to do that (or whatever),” you change your way of thinking and with humility you can say something like, “Hey, I noticed that you spent a little bit extra money in this budget category. I was thinking maybe we shouldn’t do that again.”
Being Humble And Having Humility
I think the humility component is so incredibly important. Because to have a healthy marriage (we’ve been married 14 years, we’re not quite ready to write our book yet, but we’re going to), humility needs to be present.
As a married couple, anyone who’s been married a while, you realize that in order to succeed, you have to be able to humble yourself. You have to be able to admit when you’re wrong. You have to be able to learn from the other person, and adapt and adjust. It’s just an important part of this whole equation. I feel like in order to have a budget, you have to go through that process. And I think that’s part of also why it trickles down to everything else.
Just your communication style is a big factor. You can say the exact same thing two different ways. “I love you (in a gentle and loving way),” or you can scream angrily, “I love you,” and it means two different things. We all know this. We’ve all had people do that to us.
One of my friends told me, “Go with as much humility as you can muster.” As much humility as you can find in yourself, that’s how you approach a difficult topic.
I would add another thing for the money nerds out there among us, I being one. When we create a budget, because in most households you’re going to have one person who’s leading the charge with the budget and creating it, the other person has to be involved. You have to do the budget together. Because you have to agree on it.
I love that Dave Ramsey talks about this because it’s just such an important part. You have to be in unity in finances. And if one person is handling the finances and creating the budget, it just isn’t going to fly.
And guess what? The spouse not handling the finances won’t participate in the budget because they’ll think, “Well, I need money for this and it’s not in the budget. And because I need it, I’m just going to spend my money on it.” And then the spouse handling the finances will have no idea of that purchase. So this will just cause a cycle of arguments about that purchase.
And that’s where the humility for the money nerds is just really, really important. It’s something that we have to humble ourselves and realize that the budget isn’t going to be perfect if our spouse get’s their hands on it, but it’s better done together, than perfect. You know what I mean?
Valuing Your Spouses Input
I really loved the interview with Chuck Bentley. He wrote a book about marriage and finances. And one of the things that he talked about was just how, even though he was leading the charge with their finances, he realized his best counselor about their finances was his wife. He saw what she had to bring to the table, and it was something different than what he had. And the two of them working together is what made it work. That’s what actually makes it work, and it helps you fulfill the call that God has on your life. Because there are things that are important to me that maybe aren’t necessarily as important to my wife. Or has gained importance because we’ve talked through them.
There’s things that maybe have been on my heart or have been on her heart, and as we come together, it becomes something important to both of us. And not just something that’s really important to me, and I want this and so I’m going to do this. But we’re actually in unity on it and it’s just us fulfilling our call together instead of separately.
One of the things for us that has been really important, that we talked about before we were even married, was that we really felt called to give. And so we made a separate budgeting category for giving. We’re using our budget to make sure that things that are important to us get funded.
Date night is another thing that is important to us. So making sure we have money for a babysitter and for dinner out needs to be reflected in our budget. Vacations is another one. And I’m sure you and your spouse have things that are important to you that you’ll need to have a budgeting category for.
Budgeting Provides More Freedom
And this is one of those things where so many people are confused with the budget because they think it steals your joy and it robs you of your joy. And the reality is, if you do it right, it actually provides more freedom to do those things that you find more important.
It’s hard to save for vacation. But if you have that conversation and you’re just saving for it, then when the time comes and the money is already there, it’s amazing. And you don’t have to put your vacation expenses on a credit card. It’s a really great experience.
That’s the freedom aspect of budgeting. You just quit worrying about some of these things that are really important to you. Or the bill that you know is coming at the end of the year, that you forget about until the end of the year. And then it’s like, “Well, we’ve got that that expense and we’ve got Christmas expenses coming up. We’ve also got six family birthdays this month.” But we don’t have to worry because by budgeting for these items, the money’s already there for: that bill, for Christmas and for those Birthday presents. Overall budgeting just helps lessen the worries and brings a whole lot more freedom.
The bottom line is that the budget has been a very unlikely hero of our marriage and it’s one of the things I just never would have expected, but there’s been so many wonderful benefits of it. And this is just for our marriage. This doesn’t even take into account all the things in our financial life as a whole.
The Real Money Method
If you don’t have a budget, we highly, obviously, highly recommend that you do it. And whatever budgeting method works for you, is great, just do that.
Do it if that’s what works, but we actually have a method that we really, really love. We have created a course on budgeting, The Real Money Method. It’s really good, it’s really simple, and it works. I’ve tried so many budgeting methods and we failed one after another, after another. And so we created our own budgeting method that works for people who have failed at budgeting in the past. And so if that’s you, if you’ve tried to budget the past and you’ve struggled with it, or it just didn’t work well, I think you’re going to like this.
One of the most telling things, is that we tried all sorts of different budgeting methods, and every single time Linda came back and said she would rather go back to The Real Money Method.
I’ll try to get her to change and say to her, “Well, but there’s this really cool software out right now. I want to try that,” she’ll say, “No, if I were in charge of our finances, this is what I would use.” We’re using The Real Money Method now, because it’s one we both can use and we both like. It’s the budgeting method that just works, even for our non-money nerd spouse.
If you’re married and you’re on a budget, let us know down in the comments what kind of blessings you have received from budgeting.
More importantly, if you’re not on a budget, tell us why. Because we would really love to work through that with you and help you figure out what your hangups are and how you can possibly solve that problem.
I’ve spent over a decade talking to people about their personal finances and their budget. So I would love to be able to provide any kind of insight if you’re having any hangups. Definitely let us know down in the comments.
That’s all for today. Be blessed, be a blessing.