Money… the lack of it, the way it is spent, stressing over, working 40+ hours a week for it. And if you are trying to do life with a spouse, well, then it is double the trouble as you try to do this whole money thing together. Seriously, you know that money is the #1 reason for divorce in America, no wonder it feels like you are trying to pull a lion’s teeth every time you try to talk about it. So let’s find a better way to do this, let’s pretend budget conversations are like eating dinner.
We tried Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and Every Dollar Budget. It was horrible! We fought so much! Nothing against his wisdom, it was really our communication. I had a spreadsheet with every single dollar and penny added up on it, and my husband despised it. It stressed husband out to no end, so we avoided talking about finances until we were way out of our means every month.
We tried it with just him paying bills, then with just me paying the bills, then again we tried it together. We tried computer spreadsheets, and apps that budget for you and paper spreadsheets. We tried cash only and no cash. We tried extra jobs and only working 1 job. And we still hated, HATED, trying to talk about money. We knew something needed to change, but had no idea how or what to do. After all, we had tried everything the money experts said to do.
I thought long and prayed hard to figure out a way to get on the same page for our finances. I came to think that maybe our stress is due to how we are approaching the money talks.
I realized maybe it is that we need to change how we talk about finances, even before we need to make a budget… Maybe we need to just have the money talks like it is a conversation about going out to eat at Taco Bell.
There are different ways to approach “What’s for dinner?”
Dinner each night really depends on time available, your health meter at the moment, your energy levels, and what ingredients are available. Am I right? How you approach your meals will be a balance of all of these things. In the same way, financial peace is a balance of personal and team focus, goals and available income. And on any given day, you both may not be on the same page. Instead of having a blowout fight, figure out what is driving your partner’s needs at the moment and work toward fulfilling what you both need through the finances. Just like Tuesday night dinner, no stress.
Sometimes, someone JUST NEEDS to make a decision.
Really, dinner isn’t the biggest deal in the world, especially if it is take-out, fast food. But have you ever heard the saying, “Marriage is spending the rest of your life not wanting to cook, but neither wanting to decide where to go.” Don’t allow emotions to decide what is worthy of a fight or stress. Pick a place to get food, and let’s go eat. In the same way, sometimes we over-complicate a budget. As long as you are in agreement AND you have talked about (nothing worse than no communication!), it’s okay for your money talks to be casual and 1 person stepping forward and deciding which bills are paid this week. Just like grabbing Taco Bell.
There is a need to understand what the other wants/needs.
Subway is my husband’s favorite easy no-cook meal, so he tends to grab me one too. It took 3 years for me to finally tell him I hate onion sauce, onions and olives and I really like the honey-oat breads. For 3 years, I choked it down the way HE liked it, the way HE thought was best, because I was afraid to tell him how I liked it. And it stressed me out SOOO much every time he went to Subway. I just really got to where I hated eating it, it was gross to me. When I finally did tell him, he fixed the ingredients and I actually enjoy it now too! In the same way, we all have different ‘money personalities,’ I am a spreadsheet-saver, he is not. He wants a bottom line, simplified ‘what is due this week?’ budget. Once he opened up and explained what he needs, we are now able to do budget in
Not all choices are the best.
Now this is the other side of “Someone PLEASE just decide.” There also needs to be an element of being partners and pushing each other to be the best you both can be. If my husband saw me drink Starbucks 3 in a day, he would be concerned. Same thing with the money – If he sees that I am overspending going out to eat a lot, I want him to say something and to check on me. If I see him buying new tires without talking about it, I should say something. Obviously, it needs to be in loving and kind, but passiveness isn’t going to help either. If you let your partner, teammate steer the ship toward destruction, whether in food or money, both of you go down. Again, simple, clear, kind communication is all that is needed, no stress allowed, just love!
Look, I am not saying it is always easy, or that we never have any fights anymore. We are 2 people attempting to do life together, it leads to friction, sometimes we only think about the stress in front of us or our own selfish wants instead of making it a team effort. And heck – I’m pregnant… and a diabetic… and sometimes I only want to do budget my way… and sometimes he only wants to think his way… It’s hard to get on the same page and STAY on the same page! Really hard! Is it okay if I have an honest moment okay with you? We just had another tear inducing struggle with this yesterday. To the point where I almost threw this blog out, because there is no way anyone wants to hear from someone who is still struggling with getting this down. But maybe that is why I went ahead and wrote it – here we are still trying to take the stress out and knowing how to do it, just working on staying consistent with our desire to be a team and to have continual peace in our house in all areas.
Drop a comment below, when does the stress tend to build during financial conversations and how are you going to de-escalate it now?
With gratitude for you taking the time to read (and share) this post, we hope this post has allowed you to look at your money talks in different light, and maybe that will lead you to less stress and more peace for your family and your financial goals.
Lydia and Baby Samson
PS – Are you looking for great reads on budgeting? Try these options:
P.S.S – Check out some of my other blogs on budgeting and finding peace:
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