Prior to marriage, finances and money was not a popular discussion topic for us, but during our engagement we learned that conversations about money are inevitable. Therefore, it was crucial for us to learn ways to have healthy dialogue about all things money and become vulnerable about our individual relationship with money. Becoming vulnerable means trust. When you have trust, intimacy grows. Nothing was off the table — income, money owed (debts), credit score, spending habits, and bank accounts but we did not see eye to eye on what was important in the present. Through trial and error, lots of prayer, and patience, we have been able to set goals, accomplish them and make new ones. Since 2018, we have paid off one car note, graduate school loans, cash flowed two trips to Tanzania, East Africa and completed several house projects. I am not saying we have mastered money & marriage, but our financial intimacy is at a 8/9 because of several steps we have taken.
So, what helped? At the root, spiritual maturity, but there are several other things we had to do:
1. Open dialogue & transparency. We had to practice embedding money matters into our everyday conversations. Money is a part of everyday life, right? For example, a simple text or call to say “I am taking out $200 at the bank today” can prevent a argument from taking place later. Acknowledging mistakes, making wise money decisions, adhering to money boundaries, and being honest about expenses and debt is what creates an environment for trust. In addition, nothing is a secret (even your last amazon purchase) and financial decisions are made together.
2. Prayer – Lots of it. Praying individually is great, but praying as a couple is even better. Before we got to a place of routine conversational prayer, my daily prayer was for us to be good stewards. The bible warns us that God will look at how we handle what we have to see if we are prepared for more. With the “little” income we had starting out in 2014, I wanted us to please God so that we would not block any blessings He had for us. By faith, spiritual maturity, and good stewardship, we are both more aligned with how God sees our money management.
3. Routine budget meetings (*active participation required*). Its on the calendar (with a catchy name too) as a standing appointment. We found a date (The 30th of every month) to sit down together and look at the month ahead, forecast and establish a zero based budget. At first we dreaded these discussions, but doing things like changing our monthly meetings to "our money matters" and creating a safe environment shifted our mindset.
4. Knowing we are on the same team. This is huge for us because we have made some major moves in the last 5 years: Homeownership, paid off cars, ministry and travel. When we set goals to establish together we are more invested. When we are both invested we can hold each other accountable. #TeamMsefya
5. Patience. Old habits die HARD period. Being cognizant of our upbringings and relationship with money prior to marriage, we had to exercise and continue to exercise tons of grace and patience. That looked like, being mindful of tone, timing and temperature to create an environment conducive for open conversation. Remember - two different people, with two different experiences and two relationships with money merging lives and finances to meet common goals is no easy feat.
Overdrafts – check
Making decisions that cost money in the end (like vehicle maintenance, cheap products, low quality services, etc.) – check
Ignoring the budget and wishing it would disappear – check
We have seen all of the above, but committed to forgive, grow and keep moving (remember #4).
Is money something you and your spouse value differently or the same? Its important to know so you can know how to adjust expectations and set appropriate boundaries around. Take the course and find out more about your shared values.
As you strive towards deepening your financial intimacy and taking money head on in marriage, please share which one of these tips were the most helpful. Which ones have you already implemented?