Balancing More than the Checkbook: Money Issues
Money is so much more than numbers. Beyond the checkbook, the budget and the 401K are the sneaky power struggles and conflicts that money can bring. Marriage can especially highlight money issues.
A common factor among couples is one partner being a spender while the other is a saver. In my own marriage, my husband would freely admit that I am the frugal one. While I pinch pennies and clip coupons, he tends to have a looser hold on the pocketbook. This has led to some interesting discussions, but we do tend to balance each other when necessary.
He knows I prefer to save for large purchases and stick to a budget. But he also encourages me to invest in things like quality shoes and clothing for myself. I have learned the hard way that the cheapest option is not always the most frugal since it wears out sooner and must be replaced.
One area we do agree on is debt. Debt was initially a great source of stress early in our marriage. We never really sat down to discuss money before our wedding, which I don't recommend. I remember the moment I discovered how much debt we had between us, and how shocked and dismayed I felt. It took three years of marriage before we finally decided to tackle it once and for all.
Today we both embrace our no-debt lifestyle and refuse to buy things we can't pay for in full. I know that not all couples share this mutual goal. I can only imagine how difficult this issue can be in a marriage.
Another problem can arise when one partner hides purchases from the other. This can lead to further areas of dishonesty and overspending. To avoid even unintentional "surprise" purchases, my husband and I share one checking account so nothing is hidden.
Money issues in marriage can be a huge source of stress. Frequent communication about finances is crucial for a healthy partnership. Even just a simple talk about upcoming expenses can prevent so many future arguments.
Now that we have two tweens in the house, we'll soon be facing a whole new set of issues around money. Older children come with more expenses and pressure from friends for the latest gadgets and trendy clothes. Thankfully, we now have a strong foundation and clear cut financial goals to teach our kids.
How do you handle money issues in your life?