Few things are as painful or frightening to a child as parents fighting.
And few things are more destructive to marriages as financial troubles. According to Ramsey Solutions, the only thing that causes divorce more than money is infidelity.
So, how do you resolve the issue between marriage and finance? The obvious answer is to establish financial goals and live frugally. But, sometimes, the obvious answer isn’t the cure-all.
No doubt financial wellness will ease the strain on marriages, but financial wellness doesn’t guarantee happy marriages. And sometimes, the strain on your marriage goes deeper than money itself.
Luckily, there are some great ways to heal relationships damaged by financial strain, as well as ways to avoid financial strain altogether.
Take a look at these tips for handling marriage and finance woes:
How Does Money Affect Relationships
According to Dr. Kathleen Hall from Sharecare, “the first wound in a relationship usually involves finances.” This cause of marital wounds becomes more understandable when you realize that almost two-thirds of all newlyweds start off in debt.
On the other hand, money troubles don’t guarantee a divorce. In fact, couples who have great relationships also discuss money with their spouse. Another finding from the Ramsey Solutions study points out that “Ninety-four percent of respondents who say that have a “great” marriage discuss their money dreams with their spouse.”
Talking about money with your spouse doesn’t always have to be a fight. Dr. Hall adds that “money can be a source of destruction or a source of creativity in a marriage.”
So before you write off your marriage when financial hardship hits, make a promise to yourself and to your spouse that you will use your financial struggles as stepping stone to a stronger relationship.
How to Deal with Financial Stress as a Family
The first rule of surviving financial stress as a family is to know the value of family compared to the value of money.
If you think of finances and family in terms of investment, people generally invest much more time and willpower into money than they do family.
Think about it, at least 8 hours of every day are spent working and 8 hours are spent sleeping. Be honest with yourself, do you invest nearly as much time in your family as you do your money?
Of course, measuring your investment in money and family isn’t really fair — most people are trying to make money in order to support their family. But, we need the perspective that comes from believing we owe something more than money to our families.
This mindset teaches us one important thing that we should always remember: creating a strong family requires an active, daily investment of time and attention.
Here are some great ideas for dealing with financial stress in marriage:
Set apart time to spend with your family. Make it a weekly habit. Family nights help families grow stronger and happier. Family nights are a great time to play games together. In general, playing games as a family is highly beneficial for both children and adults.
For example, U.S. News revealed that playing helps people learn to be friends, learn difficult subjects, learn to cooperate and play fair, and improves all areas of life. Family night is also a great time to learn how to cope with difficult circumstances, such as financial troubles.
Eating together has shown to drastically improve the mental and physical health of children.
Most notably, a report from The Atlantic showed that “children who do eat dinner with their parents five or more days a week have less trouble with drugs and alcohol, eat healthier, show better academic performance, and report being closer with their parents.”
Set Family Financial Goals
Your kids should learn the basic principles of handling their finances while they’re young. You never know, you may pick up a few financial tips yourself while training your kids to be financially independent.
If your kids ever get the urge to put up a lemonade stand, teach them to save and budget the money they make. Did you know that your kids could actually owe taxes from small entrepreneurial efforts? While this may be annoying, it does provide a great opportunity to learn and grow as a family.
Get a Jumpstart on Taxes
The peak of financial stress for many couples is tax season. To prevent any marital duress due to financial stress, make sure you prepare your taxes well before the tax deadline.
If you’re putting off your taxes for one reason or another (especially if you owe back taxes), it’s even more important that you get your taxes in order. The added weight of an IRS audit is enough to push any family to the breaking point.
Camping with children is stressful and tedious — like every other activity done with children. Fortunately, backyard camping is all the rage and has actually proven to be a great bonding experience for many families.
Backyard camping eliminates the hassle of long trips into the mountains and keeps you within arms reach of the comforts of home; it also allows you to sit around a campfire as a family, tell stories, play games, and grow closer than you would by staying indoors.
How to Manage Finances in a Marriage
Most individuals have some sort of personal financial plan before getting married (no matter how poor the plan actually is). Once two people get married, these personal financial plans hardly ever work anymore. There are added expenses, additional debt, and new streams of income.
It’s important that you revise your financial plan once you get married. Luckily, there are many things you can do to handle your joint finances in marriage.
The first step for most couples will be to find a great budgeting app. The best budgeting apps will allow you to track your income, prioritize your spending, and create a budget that fits your unique financial situation.
Another option that many couples find helpful is the combination of debt and finances. If you do decide to combine, take advantage of zero percent interest on balance transfers from select credit card companies.
You may also consider using a debt resolution company to get your combined finances in order.
Other successful couples choose to separate their finances, though this is a much riskier path, in terms of marital success. Combining finances can mean greater financial risk, especially if they file joint tax returns (many people have been held responsible for mistakes/inaccuracies on their spouse’s tax return).
Remember that good marriages lie upon a foundation of teamwork and trust — this is still possible while keeping finances separate, but it is tricky.
Make sure you offer your help and support to your spouse when they are experiencing financial difficulties. You may even consider paying a bit more than your share on the monthly bills every once in a while. It may also be smart to put off a joint bank account until after your individual debts are paid off.
No matter your preferred method a managing finances, make sure you follow the three rules of marital financial success: communication, trust, and self-sacrifice.
Our Debt Specialists can help you explore your alternatives to bankruptcy, including debt consolidation and debt settlement options.
We are not lawyers and are not giving legal advice. We strongly recommend speaking to a professional attorney.