Love or and Money Part 1
or and Money
Your Money, Your Relationship, Part 1
Amanda Kirk, MS
The topic of money is a tricky one that causes many to feel tense when it even comes up. Talk about money – in particular, my money, and how I handle it? No thanks! And anyway, why is an article about budgeting on a blog for a counseling agency that seeks to help people primarily with mental health and relational issues? Shouldn’t this topic be reserved for personal finance blogs?
Stay with me. What would you say if I told you that the topic of finances, and in particular, budgeting could be one of the most significant measures and tools for relational health?
If you are in – or have ever been in – a romantic relationship, I’m guessing you did one of four things when you read that last sentence –
- Scoffed and instantly thought of all the money fights you and your partner have or your parents had or…doesn’t everybody have?
- Leaned forward a little in hopeful anticipation – just in case maybe what I said could be true.
- Nodded your head – because you have a success story of your own to tell about how you and your partner were able to corral your finances toward common goals, or you know someone who does.
- Rolled your eyes and stopped reading this article.
Since the fourth guy isn’t even reading this anymore, I’ll just focus on you the other three. Let me say it again – how successfully you and your partner address finances together can help you gauge the health of your relationship and also be a tool to build a stronger bond.
This does not just work for math nerds and millionaires. It works for the not-enough, just-enough, and more-than-enough paycheck households. And it all starts with one question.
But before I get to that question, which I’ll do in a later post in this series, it’s really important that we lay the foundation. To begin, let’s talk about what budgeting really is.
Budgeting is simply assigning our money to the expenses and opportunities that come up in a given month proactively – before the month (or whatever the pay period is) begins. In other words, you list all the expenses you know you’ll have for that month – mortgage or rent, light bill, water bill, groceries, car payment, phone bill, and so on, as well as other expenditures you know you’ll have that month. Grandma’s birthday? Add it to the list. Does kid need school supplies? Add it to the list. Getting a pedicure? Add it to the list. Going on a hunting trip with your buddies? You know what to do.
Now let’s be real. For many of us, this isn’t really fun. When the money is there, it’s annoying, maybe boring. When the money isn’t there, it’s stressful, anxiety-provoking, depressing. And that’s just us by ourselves. When we have to do it with another person – who is either bored or opinionated or stressed out and in tears… forget it!
So why do it? Why even put ourselves through working on a budget together?
First of all, the money is going to be spent whether we budget it or not. But by proactively assigning the money where to go, we take control of it. It sometimes requires making hard choices and tough cuts. But little by little, as we take ownership of finances rather than just closing one eye and hoping everything balances out, our futures become more secure and we become calmer and more confident in our decision making.
Just imagine it – maybe you don’t make a ton of money, but you know exactly how much it takes to pay your bills, you can put some aside every month for savings, and have more leftover for fun activities and entertainment. When something comes up unexpectedly, you have enough padding in your money situation to handle it with little more than a blip on your financial radar screen. No red alerts, no tears, no fear.
Now, just imagine being married to that person.
Sounds pretty good, huh? If your money has a plan attached to it, you can develop the clarity, discipline, and creativity to get yourself in that position. When you work together, you will also be married to a person in that position.
This is not the stuff of fairy tales; it really is possible. It’s not always easy, but it is fairly simple. Join me here again for our next post, where we’ll dive more into the impact budgeting can have on our relationships, then I’ll offer some practical steps you and your partner can take to put these principles into practice.