Often in marriages one person assumes control the finances. They pay the bills, watch the accounts, and retain all of the money know how. In our family that is my wife, Treva. She willingly takes on that task, and it definitely helps us split the workload of family responsibilities. One of the pitfalls, however, is that I occasionally find myself out of the loop with where we stand financially. I become oblivious to the actual amounts and inner workings of the accounts, and with that I lose my ability to provide input and insight.
Something we do to combat that tendency and to help us handle our money and finances in marriage, is to have a monthly budget/finances meeting. It is not as scary as it sounds! What the meeting boils down to is laying all the financial cards on the table and talking about them. If you don’t have a budget, please don’t feel like you need one to talk about your finances. You can vary the meeting frequency depending on the current state of the finances. If you are deep in debt and the stress is high, meet every week or every other week. If things are in cruise control skipping a month isn’t a big deal.
To start the meeting, bring a current snapshot of the finances. I usually print the account summary page from Quicken. Bank and credit card statements or a spreadsheet print out would be perfect too. From there we look things over, and make sure we are both comfortable with everything. If she has ideas or questions, we talk it through and come up with a plan together.
Subjects can vary from long term goals, to the budget for groceries, to 401k contributions, vacations, or whatever needs to be discussed related to money. Any actions that need to be taken are noted and ‘assigned’ to one of us, so that they can be reviewed the next month. We usually try to keep the meeting short, 15-30 minutes. If it runs longer than that, we will either follow up later, or wait until next month.
For us it has been a wonderful ‘habit’ for handling our money together in marriage.
Here is a list of the benefits that it has brought to our marriage:
- Openness/No Hiding
- Valuable Communication
- Multiple Viewpoints and Insights
- Sharing of Financial Stress and Decisions
- Diffusion of Power
- Dependence on God through prayer
Featured Guests: Bill and Treva Yaccino
Bill & Treva Yaccino are founders of Wedding Pastors USA, a network of Christian ministers helping couples on their wedding, including preparing for a healthy marriage. Bill & Treva lead couples retreats and Couples Coaching clinic, and meet one-on-one with couples that want to invest in their marriage before it starts. Contact them at [email protected]