I am always happy to welcome back my friend Cherie Lowe from the Queen of Free, who has graciously joined us here at LWSL as a regular monthly contributor. Cherie is the author of the amazing book, Slaying the Debt Dragon, which she wrote after paying off more than $127,000 in debt! I love being able to bring her wealth of knowledge & experience on this subject to LWSL–please join me in making her feel right at home!
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This is a Guest Post from Cherie at Queen of Free
She stands still with stars in her eyes and sparkles in her hair, naïve and full of hope for the future combined with a few unrealistic expectations of her husband to be. He watches her with sheer delight, taking joy in the bride he’s dreamt of building a future with even though he’s yet to realize she’s far from perfect. During a season when it feels like there’s a wedding every other weekend and a shower on the opposite ones, it’s easy to be caught up in the excitement of young love. There’s so much joy in celebrating a couple’s nuptials, of the anticipation of all that’s to come in their new little family.
If you know a soon-to-be newlywed couple, stop and say a prayer for their relationship. The difficult truth no one wants to hear on his or her wedding day is that close to 40% of marriages end in divorce. Ranking among the chief reasons why couples call it quits are fights over money. If you or someone you love is taking the plunge this year, be sure they read these 5 principles every newlywed should know about marriage and money.
Communicate (and Then Communicate Some More)
For years, my husband has quipped, “The death of communication is the birth of resentment.” On those days when he drives me crazy (because no matter how happily married you are, you’ll still drive each other crazy), the adage makes me so mad because I know he’s right. When you stop talking about your struggles, your feelings, your problems, you begin to resent your spouse. You may not even be fighting; you may just be busy in your own separate spheres of influence.
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This is precisely why weekly budget meetings are so important during the early days of marriage. You need to routinely practice talking about money – even if you don’t have very much to manage. Talk about upcoming expenses and money goals. Never had a budget meeting before? Read Four Ways to Improve Your Weekly Budget Meeting.
Unfortunately, the majority of couples who e-mail me struggling with money problems in their marriages see the conflict through a negative lens. One spouse typically is at his or her wits end with the other and wants to know how to “fix” the problem (ahem, the problem being the person they made sacred vows to on their wedding day). This adversarial approach rarely yields positive results. If you continue to view money as a me vs. my spouse issue, you will not only drive yourself crazy but you’ll begin to unwittingly place a wedge in between the both of you. While there is always work to be done when it comes to organizing monthly finances, it doesn’t have to be wearisome drudgery. Especially if you have a spouse who is resistant to change or budgeting, begin with the positive outcomes you’d like to achieve. Brainstorm what you will do or where you will go someday when you’re out of debt. Dream up an audacious savings goal and then get creative together on how to attain it. Begin with the end in mind. You’ll find shared vision not only consolidates your aims, it also captivates your hearts – together. Dreaming was essential in our journey of paying off over $127K in debt. Read five more ways we intentionally kept our marriage healthy while paying off debt.
Grocery Shopping Dates
It’s easy for any of us to have an opinion on how much should be spent on what category of spending. However, seeing can change our hearts and minds when it comes to setting a limit. This is why it’s incredibly important to engage in the process of setting your budget together. It’s a great idea to pay bills together, grocery shop together, and talk about realistic numbers for giving, saving, and spending together. The more you dialogue, the less likely you will be to set unrealistic expectations. Grocery shopping together on a regular basis provides a great platform to open channels of communication about how much your household expenses really are. You may not be able to engage in the practice every single week, but once a month or even once a quarter will assist in a more solid understanding of how much it costs to feed your family.
Realize Your Differences
Most financial gurus will tell you that in every marriage there is a spender and a saver. This could ring true for you and your future spouse. I’d hazard a guess that there’s another set of categories, too. In nearly every relationship I’ve encountered there’s an individual focused on short-term goals (think vacation, and Christmas) and one who concentrates on long term goals (think retirement and college savings plans). Here’s the good news: both you and your spouse were created with unique gifts and a purpose in life. Realizing your differences early on can help you avoid potential misunderstandings and conflict while also leaning into those gifts to strengthen your joint financial experience. If one of you is better at the nuts and bolts of setting up and maintaining a budget, then he or she should take care of those tasks. It’s a subtle dance of sharing responsibilities while communicating effectively about what you’re doing with your money.
Above all else, remember that your spouse is more important than any financial goal. Choose your words wisely when you speak to one another. Remember you chose to walk down the aisle. You promised to love, for richer or for poorer. Your words matter and the heart and the soul of your spouse matter even more. While it doesn’t seem like financial advice you’d receive from an “expert,” perhaps the very best thing you could do for your money is to be kind and encouraging to each other. Belittling or manipulating your spouse into desired behavior is not love, nor is it a picture of what a healthy marriage should look like.
My hope and prayer is that the stars would never disappear from your eyes when you gaze at your sweet spouse, that you would always be filled with hope for the future. Considering these five principles won’t guarantee a perfect marriage; however, applying them just might help you beat the odds with a love that lasts.
Cherie Lowe is an author, speaker and hope bringer. Her book Slaying the Debt Dragon details her family’s quest to eliminate over $127K in debt in just under four years. As her alter ego the Queen of Free, Cherie provides offbeat money saving tips and debt slaying inspiration on a daily basis.