In addition to you and your spouse's individual financial behavior, your relationship has a tremendous impact on your money. Researchers have identified the following qualities of a marriage that affect financial security:
• Emotional intimacy
• Mutual respect and communication
• Trust and love
If your relationship is plagued by mistrust, poor communication, selfishness, disrespect, or manipulation, you may be likely to have money problems. Some of the relationship issues that can cause financial distress include the following:
• Poor communication
• Control and manipulation of others
• Ill-defined roles
Effective communication about family finances and goals is critical to money management. Do you know your spouse's attitude toward money? Do you know and understand his or her financial goals? Do you talk to your spouse before making a large purchase? Do you consult with your spouse about how to spend "extra" money like tax refunds, gifts, or bonuses?
Do you understand your spouse's feelings toward money? Do you understand why money matters make your wife anxious? Do you understand that your husband is motivated to save money for a rainy day because his family had money problems when he was a child?
Mutual Respect and Consideration
Do you use money to control your spouse? Do you go on shopping sprees and exceed the family budget because you are angry at your husband? Do you respect your wife's desire to save money for new curtains-or your husband's desire to save money for a trip to Hawaii? Do you consider your spouse's feelings before making financial decisions?
Trust and Love
Do you and your spouse trust that you have each other's best interests at heart? Do you communicate openly with your wife about your financial income or do you hide some of your money so she won't spend it?
From their research, scholars have provided insights and recommendations to help families manage their finances more effectively. These recommendations are based mostly on changing behaviors and attitudes. They include learning to distinguish between needs and wants, communicating openly and honestly about family finances, using a budget or financial plan, and understanding the connection between money and family relationships.
Ideas for Managing Your Finances More Effectively
• Be aware that each individual has different values, standards, and goals that influence his or her view of money and its uses.
• Understand the family financial rules that existed in your spouse's family of origin and how they affect his or her financial perspective.
• Communicate openly and lovingly with your spouse about your family financial patterns. Assess your family financial rules and decide which ones you want to keep and which ones you want to change.
• Increase your financial understanding and skills by using community resources like libraries, schools, and seminars.
• Consider the motivation behind your financial habits. Do you spend money to "keep up with the Joneses" or improve your social image? Do you spend money to buy the love and affection of others? Do you control the family money too much because you do not trust your spouse?
• Plan a family activity to teach all family members about the family finances. For example, cash your paycheck and show your children how the money is allocated to various expenses and savings programs.
Change your Financial Behavior
• Manage your money with a written budget.
• Make a list defining each spouse's financial roles and responsibilities.
• Make purchases that are appropriate to your income level.
• Make a list separating your basic needs from your wants. Keep expenses constant even when your income increases.
• Give family members some allowance to spend how they choose without being accountable to anyone.
• Avoid impulse buying. Make a shopping list and stick to it. Don't carry credit cards or checkbooks. Set time delays or waiting periods before making large purchases.
• Establish a limit to the amount of money either spouse can spend before consulting his or her partner. This limit will vary according to the life-stage of the couple; it may be $100-200 for an established couple and only $20 for newlyweds.
• Share the purchase and use of expensive items. For example, buy a snow blower with your neighbors, or purchase a cabin or boat with your family.
• Calculate hidden and indirect costs associated with a purchase.
• Set up a thirty-day menu to plan and save on grocery purchases.
• Eliminate debt and interest payments. Use an accelerated payment or fold-down plan for debt reduction. Avoid using credit for things you do not need.
Prepare for the Future
• Establish an emergency savings fund of at least three months' income. If the family has only one breadwinner, consider having savings of six months' income.
• Review medical, life, and property insurance policies to make sure they fit your circumstances.
Written by Susan Sheldon, Graduate Research Assistant, and edited by Bernard E. Poduska, Associate Professor, and Stephen F. Duncan, Professor, School of Family Life, Brigham Young University. Retrieved by permission.
Recommended Bible Reading
"He who has no rule over his own spirit is like a broken down city without a wall" [Proverb 25:28].
"But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" [1 Timothy 5:8].
Poduska, B. E. (1993). For Love and Money: How to Share the Same Checkbook and Still Love Each Other. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book