Updated: Feb 11, 2021
I often tell people that when my husband and I went to premarital counselling, we were instructed to independently fill out a questionnaire and then compare our responses. We had all of the SAME answers for our belief system and values and NONE of the same answers when it came to finances. So we knew before getting married that this was going to be a challenge in our marriage. However, this financial challenge or red flag became more like an indicator light of where we needed to intentionally take action. (https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/newlyweds-what-do-we-need-to-know-about-money)
Initially, I was a bit perturbed with my spouse for wanting to spend MY hard earned money on tools for his work. How dare he spend MY money! Initially, I wanted my own bank account, but he said “no, don’t be silly” and I’m glad that I listened to him because once we got on the same page, it made so much more sense to have a joint bank account and combine our resources towards our shared dreams.
We have several reasons for having a joint account:
Because we are dreaming and planning together, it just made sense to have it all in one place and not have two individuals working separately on their own agenda. Two people together working towards a goal is better than one because they can be each other’s cheerleaders and keep each other accountable. I’m not saying that you can’t have separate Tax Free Savings Accounts. You can! and you can even label them for different savings goals. For example, my TFSA (Tax Free Savings Account) is currently for our sinking funds and my husband’s is for our future dreams and goals. Many people have trust issues and worry about their spouse cleaning out their joint bank account and leaving them with nothing but honestly if you are concerned that this is going to happen, this is a major marriage issue that immediately needs to be addressed and has nothing to do with a joint account and more to do with trust and stability in your marriage. Also, when you share a joint chequing account and you are budgeting together, wouldn’t you notice if the other person was planning an escape? Also, I’m not saying that if you are a single person that you can’t achieve your financial goals either. However I do recommend that you have a close friend who knows your goals and keeps you accountable.
Having a joint chequing account forces us to communicate more frequently. When I spend money from our joint account, I need to communicate that transaction to my spouse so that he doesn't think someone has fraudulently taken money out of our account. Hopefully, we have already decided ahead of time together through our budget, where the money is going and why.
Budget date nights:
My husband and I had been a little lax about purposely being intentional with our budget because it had become pretty much the same every month but when we sat down together again and planned out the month of June 2020 (even with all of its uncertainties with COVID), it felt like such a load was lifted off my shoulders that I didn’t have to carry all of the responsibility of the budget. I felt like I was going into the month of June with a plan and a purpose and that we had decided together as a couple about what we would like to accomplish for June while keeping it in line with our big goals and dreams for 2021. These budget dates have brought me a sense of closeness in our relationship. I’ve also read many stories of other couples who have accomplished great feats in paying off huge amounts of debt and what many of them have experienced as a benefit to being intentional, was the improvement in openness and trust in their marriage.
You don’t have to put your life on hold:
When you have debt and no purpose, you are forced individually and as a couple to put your life plans and goals on hold. For example, you may have to put off: starting a family, buying a home, taking a dream job, building your dream home, and being generous with friends and family. Also with the stress of debt and without a plan to get rid of that debt, comes sleepless nights and increased stress taking a toll on your health. When both of you are just spending on whatever day to day whims you want, then your relationship and lost dreams suffer because they are built on a thin foundation. And a house without a firm foundation will crumble over time.
When one spouse makes more money than the other one, there might be a sense of entitlement that one spouse can maybe spend more on nicer things than the other. Or one spouse feels like they have a higher value in the relationship because of their higher income. However, when it is OUR money combined together, there is no MINE. We both agree on the type of lifestyle that we want to live with OUR money and both of us contribute to our goals equally.
When we both work on the budget together, it allows me to get off my high horse because I am the nerd who loves looking at the budget and it prevents my spouse from feeling not needed. His input is just as valuable, even though he doesn’t feel the need to obsessively look at every expense detail everyday.
Prevents Financial Infidelity:
I’d never heard that term before until I listened to couples' stories of one spouse being uninformed or choosing to be naïve about their family's finances while the other spouse had complete and unrestrained control of all the money. Unfortunately, this can lead to one person spending tons of money and getting the family into deep debt without the other person knowing. Guess what, it’s quite common! So BOTH spouses need to work TOGETHER! I’m not saying that it’s worse than emotional or physical infidelity, but it is a real problem too because in the end both spouses have to work together
to create solutions to dig themselves out of debt!
For more on Financial Infidelity!
Agree on family expectations together:
How much are we going to spend on our children? What are our priorities with our children? Do we want to have children and how many? Many couples become extreme about spending money on their children, maybe because of guilt or societal expectation. Decide together as a couple about what you value. Otherwise, one parent decides that they are going to demonstrate love with presents for their children and the other parent decides that they would rather spend it on extra curricular activities and both parents are spending and pulling their children in opposite directions. The children can’t do both and receives mixed messages about their family values.
How much are we going to give our children for allowance or chores? How much are we going to help them with their education or their first vehicle? If you haven't decided yet what your family priorities are, then I suggest reading this first (https://www.financialresuscitationwithruthy.com/post/part-2-how-to-make-the-goal-your-priority).
It makes life so much easier for us as a couple and as a family to know what direction we want to go so that we can gauge our budgeting and expenses around that same route. It is the plumb line or true north of our family values. Does that decision line up with our goals and expectations for us? Now, go forth and budget together!
Now Go and Be Intentional!