Do you have trouble talking to your spouse about finances? I used to, but now talking to my husband about finances is easy. Having those conversations is a skill we had to learn through trial and error, sometimes lots of error! But it is a skill well worth learning.
We’ve been married 35 years this month. For most of that time I’ve handled the finances. But my husband still needed to know where our money was going and how broke we were. Through the years we’ve learned a thing or two about communicating over finances. Here’s a list to get you started on talking with your spouse about this sensitive subject.
7 Tips to Make Talking About Money Easier
- Tithe. Trusting God is hard work at times, perhaps no more so than with our money. But over the past several decades – of sometimes tithing and sometimes not – I’ve learned that God is faithful to meet our needs when we are faithful to trust Him. Read this for more practical help.
- Have a periodic financial date. We meet every other month, but there have been times when we met for financial discussions monthly or even more frequently. I don’t think you should go more than two or three months without having a financial date.
- Try to get a sitter or arrange your date for after the kids are in bed, when they have a sleepover, or are at soccer/piano/ballet practice.
- Keep the focus on current financial concerns, not the past mistakes (everyone has them) that you’ve both made.
- Review and adjust your budget. You do have a budget, don’t you? See where you are overspending and how to trim back those areas.
- Commit to a spending only what you have – even if your spouse isn’t there yet. Don’t make things worse by charging a new purse just because your husband just bought a new catcher’s mitt for his softball league. You may have to be the adult at times when he isn’t. When discussing these issues, use your adult voice, not your shaming or belittling voice – don’t try to impress him with how financially sacrificial you’ve been.
- Be honest. No matter how bad things are, own up to it. Start today and plan your next financial date – soon! – and be transparent about your clothes, shoes, lattes, lunches with friends, gym membership, credit card balances, and everything else. Naming the problem is the first step to fixing it. If there are no hidden financial skeletons in your closet, praise God. If there are, deal with them honestly. And don’t allow any more to take up residence be committing to honesty.
- Don’t hide expenditures no matter how foolish they seem or how much trouble you think they’ll bring. When in doubt about what your spouse needs to know, assume he needs to know everything! See #4.
- Separate wants from needs. You want cable TV but need food and shelter. You want a new car but need reliable, if slightly old, transportation. You want a new lipstick but need diapers. Get the idea? You and he need to come to an agreement on what your needs are, what your high-priority wants are, and what you can live without. Talk about it, don’t make assumptions.
- Remember what matters. Here’s a hint: it isn’t money or the things that money can buy. Several years ago, a wise friend told me that if I had my family, the rest was just ‘stuff.’ She was right. Yes, it makes life nicer. Yes, it can make life easier. But in the end, stuff will never replace people.
Some Biblical Insight
Before closing on this topic, I want to share some helpful verses to consider.
Proverbs 16:21 – The wise in heart will be called understanding, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.
Proverbs 16:24 – Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
Malachi 3:10 – Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.
Ephesians 4:26 – Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.
1 Timothy 6:8 – If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.
1 Timothy 6:10 – For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Hebrews 13:5 – Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,”