I’m a statistic. Yes, I’m one of those people whose financial issues led to divorce. There were a lot of other issues in our marriage, sure, but money management was definitely on top of the list.
We were college students at the time. We both worked to cover rent and the basics for the first year or so of our marriage. Gradually student loans became too tempting, and we began using our financial aid money for more than just school costs. We purchase a used vehicle, paid for small trips and, in general, we used that money to live a real life rather than the college life we should have been leading.
Then I graduated and no longer received student loans. I began working full time, but since we were still in a college town, I wasn’t making much money. However, our spending didn’t change and, before long, the money fights began.
The Tipping Point
As a nonconfrontational person by nature, talking about money was really difficult for me. So, rather than tackle the difficult conversation, I just kept silent.
I knew that we were overspending. I managed the money and tried to live on a budget, but my husband was constantly wanting to spend money. He wasn’t out of control or a crazy spender, I just didn’t know how to say no, and the debt began to add up.
I came from a budget-conscious family with very little money. He came from a significantly more affluent upbringing and had rarely been told no by his parents. When you combine different spending habits and my inability to say no and articulate the issues, it leads to debt, which in turn leads to more issues. Before long, we were heading for divorce.
Communication Is Key
Fortunately, I learned from the experience and am significantly better at managing my money, communicating with my current husband and controlling my spending then I was in my first marriage. The number one thing I learned from my first marriage is that it isn’t the money that is the issue, it the lack of communication about money that is the issue. If you can’t talk about money within your marriage, then you will never be able to manage your budget, control your spending or begin preparing for retirement.
In my current marriage, I’ve tackled the difficult discussions head-on. We budget and actually talk about the budget together. We don’t always budget well and our discussions aren’t always great, but at least we are trying.
One area we focus on that has worked for us is talking about large purchases before we make them. I know that neither I nor my husband will go out and make a purchase larger than $100 without consulting the other person first. This was a commitment we made to one another when we got married. So far, we’ve managed to stick to this agreement, and the difference is noticeable.
We might not always agree with how we spend our “fun money,” but we respect the fact that we have our own interests. So, we’ve decided that “fun money” has to be budgeted for and approved by us both.
A Better Financial Future Together
I’m constantly amazed at the difference in my current relationship — the money fights are virtually nonexistent. We’re not always on the same page with how we should spend our money, but our choice to discuss our spending and make conscious decisions together has made all the difference.
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