Friday, August 9, 2013

Marriage & finances: You had me at Dave Ramsey

My husband and I have a crazy story that spans two decades and involves two engagements and Facebook. Basically we were engaged at 22, split up for 16 years, reunited on FB and then married on 9-10-11 (so neither of us will forget the date!).

A person changes a lot between 22 and 40, right? Well, our relationship back then and now reflects that change pretty clearly. One area most of all is finances.

When we were young, we did not see eye to eye on finances. He has always been very conservative and I, on the other hand, was too free with money. My approach to finances at that time led to many years of debt later on when we were no longer together.

The very first night my husband and I spoke on the phone after 16 years, what became quickly clear was that we were now on the same page financially. After learning we both had paid-off 2001 Corollas with more than 150,000 miles on each, I said something like, "Have you ever heard of Dave Ramsey?" (A financial guru I'll talk more about in a minute).

He said, "Of course!" Turns out he had read Dave's books and listened to him on the radio. I had listened to Dave's CD's which helped me take control of my finances.

Different financial philosophies can create a lot of tension in a marriage. I have experienced that personally and it is no fun.

And I can attest to the fact that once you are on the same page with your spouse - not necessarily of the exact same mind but working toward the same goal - married life is a lot smoother. After having experienced both sides of this, I'd just like to offer my few tips if you find a financial division in your home:

  • First and foremost, talk about it. I made the mistake of holding back my thoughts in my first marriage until I was really upset and then it was a blow up.
  • Take it slow. Change is hard and the end result is very important. Nothing worthwhile is easy.
  • Give each other grace. Financial issues are deeply personal and tied to what a person views as important as well as how they were raised. Try and understand their point of view.
  • Approach it as a team, not a you vs. them. What are your goals as a couple for your family, your home, your future?
  • Consider checking out Dave Ramsey. He has great advice for couples here and in his CD series talks about how there is usually a "nerd" and a "free spirit" as it relates to money. He has books, CDs and also offers biblical-based Financial Peace University classes at churches that couples can take together. His ideas changed the way I look at money.
  • Check  out the Money Saving Mom's posts on marriage and finances. She has a lot of great ideas.
  • Set goals. What do you want to achieve? By when? Sometimes sitting down and writing goals solidifies the thoughts in your head and puts you down the path. 
  • Keep communication open. As your circumstances and life situation changes over the years, so will your goals and needs. I think Dave Ramsey advocates a monthly budget meeting. My husband and I work together so we discuss finances a lot throughout the month, but you could set up a day that you sit down and focus on it.
  • Keep some flexibility. Again, Dave Ramsey advocates a "blow" category in your budget or "fun money." I think that's crucial. This way you each maintain independence and can buy certain things you want, but within the joint structure you have come up with together. Nobody wants to have to explain everything little thing they buy! 
  • Decide who handles the technical part. In our house, hubby is the go-to bill payer. He has it built into his schedule. I like that he has that chore, but we discuss finances a lot. He may be the check writer, but we make the decisions together. 
How do you and your spouse work out finances? Are you on the same page? How have you worked out the budget and future goals?

28 comments:

  1. Great Tips!! We haven't got married yet but live in the same house and its still My $ and your $...I think we might need to read that book!

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    1. It's hard to blend finances. My hubby was a little concerned I think, but we have so far worked it out pretty well. I think frequent communication is just the biggest thing of all.

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  2. Thank you for sharing these tips! My husband and I both have access to everything, but I'm the one who takes care of the bills. I think it's important to have one person who has that responsibility, with both parties being privy to the information. He knows he can look online at any time to see where we are at, and I welcome his input.

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    1. I agree! One go-to person who keeps track of it all is so much easier, but you both share in the decisions.

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  3. Great advice. We are working on the snowball debt payment.....or trying to.

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    1. Good luck! That can be a long process (I'm almost done with my school loans finally as I went back at age 30) but so worth it and such a sense of accomplishment.

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  4. Dave Ramsey has been a life saver for my husband and I. We took it very early on in our marriage (a few months) which is something I will always be grateful for. We were unemployed in in rough waters financially because of a lot of student loan debt plus a mortgage. I don't think we would have survived that first year without taking this class.

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    1. That's so great you discovered Dave early on! It's so much better when you work on it together and are working toward the same thing.

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  5. I'm a Dave fan too! :D I'm learning your bullet point number 2 right now. As much as we can wholeheartedly agree with the concepts and desire to change, those behaviors really do take a LOT of time and repetition to make it a new habit. I honestly still haven't even gotten into the habit of keeping and sticking to a written budget, and I've been reading Dave's books for almost a year.

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    1. Yes, I think financial habits are some of the hardest to break, well and eating habits. Because they are so ingrained in your every day decisions, minute to minute, hour to hour. I still have to talk myself out of certain decision since I know they just aren't the right ones.

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  6. Such a nice post. Thanks for the tips!

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  7. Finances are such a stress point in marriage. I love your tips. Being open with each other about our finances has really helped my hubby and I. I am not real good with money, so us being on the same page and having a clear goal has really helped me keep myself in check.

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    1. It's such a good motivator when you know you are one half of a team working toward a specific goal. I wasn't always that good either and I still have to work at it.

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  8. The military makes us go through his classes so we get the book and I gotta tell you that it really helps if you listen to what he has to say. It's tough at first but as long as you stick to your budget you'll be great. We had a lot of difficulty at first and still do at times with sticking to our budget but we're getting better. Thanks for sharing. :)

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    1. That's great the military does that! It's wonderful that you're working together on it.

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  9. Oooh we love Dave Ramsey! We use his zero budget strategy and it works very well for us. Finances must be in the air!

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    1. Dave rocks! And yes, money issues are on people's minds these days. The economy still maybe?

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  10. I've dabbled in Dave's stuff a bit here and there, but I definitely agree with his principles. We've read and done a lot with Crown.org which has a lot of great Christian advice for all sorts of specific money matters. Money is one of the top reasons for divorce - so such an important thing to get right!!!

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    1. Crown.org sounds interesting. I'll have to check it out. And yes, it can cause SO much stress in a marriage. I remember those fights and they were awful!

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  11. Great advise, we love Dave Ramsey! By the way, love your love story, so sweet! :)

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    1. Aw, thank you :) It's nice to get a second chance, especially after you've grown up a little.

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  12. My hubby and I once started a Dave Ramsey budget, but have long gone away from it. We really need to get back on track. Thanks for posting!

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    1. You're welcome :) It's hard to keep with it but so worth it!

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  13. You are right. Finances can make or break a marriage. We are big Dave fans in this house. My son took the Financial Peace high school course for homeschoolers and it was a great review for me also. It takes time to get it right, but it's always good when your both going in the same direction.

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    1. Finances truly can set the tone for a marriage. So great your high schooler took it! I hope I can get my kiddo on the Dave path early.

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