How to have a financial review with your spouse and keep it friendly.

One of the more frustrating aspects of marriage occurs when your spouse has conflicting ideas about money or won't even participate in the discussion of money.  Of course we have different views on money- we come from different families and experiences.   When one spouse doesn’t want to participate in financial planning, it can be frustrating for both partners—and even cost you in the long run. It doesn’t help matters if your spouse thinks you are nagging or hounding them about money all the time, and you certainly.  I have found that it can take 2-5 years to help the other spouse catch up to speed and feel the responsibility of shared finances, but it’s worth it.  So very worth it.  Don’t give up.

Here are 7 things to help you as you practice and progress towards harmony in your financial lives.

But First— Ask this question to your spouse.     Let’s list all the things that will help us if we work together to harmonize our finances:  


#1 Prioritize your Financial Goals.     Create the wish list- try not to have more than 5 things on the list.  Number them 1-5 You can also have some benchwarmers but prioritize them.

#2 Create your Spending plan- Fader provided his below.
Don't forget to celebrate small victories along the way. For example, congratulate yourself once you pay off your debt, or reward yourself when you stick to your spending plan for three months solid, or when you successfully pad your emergency fund.

#3- Find a money date:  Just talk about money and agree before that you will not argue, but will just discuss your value about money.   You don’t have to agree with your partner, but you do need to know how he or she views money to have a productive conversation.

Some of my favorite questions are:
A- When you don’t have money how does that make you feel?
B- When we do have money how does that make you feel?
C- What is your biggest fear about money?
D- What do you want to do with the money when we have a surplus

#4 Find a 10 minute time each week that works for you to hand in receipts- go over spending plan and review needs of the family and then decide how and when you will spend the money for that!

#5 Do not exclude or try to control the other or the spending plan.  

Yet just as often, this exclusion happens for the same reason that one spouse tends to the yard and the other to the kitchen: it is where their relative strengths lie. But dividing up who handles the money and leaving one spouse in the dark can be financially destructive.  Each person needs to be responsible for at least 5 of the areas:

#6 Make sure you have a back up fund.  That is at least 1 year of income- the covers the basics.  Go through the spending plan and cut out everything you won’t need and make that your basis.    

#7 Get professional help if needed- someone who will pull you in every 6 months to assess the overall picture and who will deal with both parties equally without any bias or control or either party.

Bonus= Teach each other all the aspects of the spending plan- like how your CC are deducted each month and how that happens.  How to set up a Mutual Fund- How to work with the bank to have multiple accounts under one umbrella, How you pay your tithing online, making sure she/he understands where every dept payment is going to. etc.  

The Solution: Change Your Approach

Change the way you approach talking about money. Stop using blame, and don't focus on the past. Instead, focus on what you can change moving forward and set up baby steps or milestones to track your progress towards your money goals. Try using phrases such as, “We are not going to blame each other for where we are. Instead, we’ll work together to get out of this situation.”

Ask your spouse to commit to a spending plan that will improve the financial situation for both of you. With this approach, your spouse may be more willing to get on board and work together to improve your financial situation. Re-orienting your approach to a positive one diffuses any negativity and allows you to work toward a more positive future.

Problem: Spouse Doesn’t Feel Involved or Feels Like You Are Telling Them What to Do 

While you may think you have a reluctant spouse who does not want to plan, you may actually be dealing with someone who does not feel involved in the situation.

Ask your spouse if they would like a more active role in the spending plan process; and if they say yes, then you may benefit from changing the way you approach the situation by sharing some of the financial responsibilities with them.Often, one spouse will feel like the other is controlling all of the spending decisions, and feels like a child rather than an adult in the situation. This may be especially true if one spouse gives the other an allowance:   I also love an amount given to just go blow it each month on whatever.

Solution: Give Your Spouse a Reality Check

This may sound harsh, but the best way to handle when one does not want to be involved, is to provide your spouse with a reality check. Talk about goals or desires that they have expressed in the past, such as owning a home or traveling during retirement years.  Buying that house in Hawaii, etc.  Compare these goals directly to your current financial situation. Put together an estimate of the level of savings you need to accomplish and demonstrate to your spouse whether or not you will achieve that goal at the rate you are operating now. Through this process, you may be able to get them on board with a monthly spending plan discussion.   Sometimes it takes seeing the hard facts to wake someone up to the reality of the situation and help them get inspired to take action.

Please note- it is my belief based on 31 years of experience that the damage and the challenge that occur in a marriage that is not actively involved handling and learning together has some of the most serious consequences from death to disability to just a lack of knowledge when the other person takes the reins of finances.  Be wise and remember- D&C 104- we are to be stewards over everything.  It’s a command, not a commandment.  It’s an opportunity to recognize that none of this stuff is really yours, just take a moment and play out the act of you dying and you will recognize that very quickly.  


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Total Spending Plan =   ?    Money Made this month  ?   Then where does that money go?   Which avenues will you place that money?