Prior to marriage, finances and money was not a popular discussion topic, 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, present debits, spending habits, bank accounts, etc. 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?
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. Talking about all things money and acknowledging mistakes, areas of growth, and being honest about expenses and debt is what creates an environment for trust. Nothing is a secret (even passwords) 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 and good stewardship, we have seen the fruit.
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. We know exactly what is coming in and what is coming out of the joint account.
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. Two different people 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 forgive and keep moving (remember #4).
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?