So when it comes to spending money, I am a hoarder. When I was single I didn't do anything fun, ever, because I had to SAVE. I didn't really have a plan or a goal for the money. I just enjoyed having it sitting there in the bank, adding up. The thing was, I was miserable. You would think that having $8000 sitting in the bank after 2 years of working with a lower income, there would be cause for celebration. It was a lousy trophy, collecting dust.
A couple years after this, I got married to a spender. Ha! How did that all work out for Chris and me? You might be surprised but we get along pretty well despite our drastic differences in managing money. Over the last 5 years, we have come to find a good common ground and are able to figure out how to spend money in a way that satisfies our home unit. I thought I would share a few thoughts on what we did to make this happen.
1. Establish Your Goals As A Couple
One thing that can really get in the way of figuring out how to become a team, financially, is not separating yourselves from your past lives. When you are thinking for two, it is a whole lot different than thinking for yourself. I used to just eat whatever was left in the cabinet until the absolute last minute before grocery shopping again. Chris doesn't work that way and it's totally fine. I just try my best to keep things stocked, but not waste. It also might be easy to think your home has to be set up the same way as your parents' home. In reality, this isn't going to work. The people that live in your house are completely different, so expecting everything to be the same isn't practical.
2. Discuss Every Big Purchase Openly
So, Chris and I do this on the constant. Even when we are dreaming or going back and forth between "do we buy the couch?" or "do we wait?" we hash it out together. It's almost like a dance. Ha! In our first few years of marriage, it was a little rocky and I often found I had two left feet. The word "discuss" is also important. Shouting and trying to shove your opinion down a throat isn't "discussing". Teamwork takes putting opinions aside and putting all the facts out on the table without letting feelings take over. Generally, this makes it easier for you bring up something the other person may not have thought of. Shouting shuts anyone down. Don't waste your breathe trying it.
3. Trust Each Other To Make Wise Decisions
Whoa. This is a big one! I am not sure if this is where the rubber meets the road for most folks, but it should be a given. Even when we make the decision to marry someone and trust them with our lives, we sometimes forget that with that comes trusting them financially. Because Chris and I handle money quite differently, we've learned how to benefit from both worlds. Chris might not be afraid to spend money, but I am. He has taught me so much about relying on God instead of money. I no longer look at the value of money but at how we can use it to better the lives of others and make our home a good place to hang. I, in turn, keep him check. Not by pestering him (it really doesn't work, trust me), but by just being an existing reminder that it's good to double check and see if the purchase is a priority. More brains, the better!
4. Constantly Ask God For Wisdom
When Chris and I are having a hard time making a decision on something, we definitely talk with God about it. He always comes through with answers, but it's often executed in very different ways. It's great when you see how God comes through. At the same time, it is equally important for you to be praying for wisdom constantly. Not just when things are hard to figure out. I am a firm believer in knowing that God gives us minds to think for ourselves. I don't think we have to be waiting for a neon sign from God for every little step. When you figure something out and that light bulb moment happens, you can give God the credit! There is true fulfillment in being able to figure something out on your own and knowing that God was teaching you all along the way. It's like when those training wheels come off for the first time! YA!
I understand a lot of this takes the two of you to make things run smoothly. Sometimes one of you isn't going to want to cooperate. I've been there and done it. Not proud of it. What I can tell you is that if you are willing to make a change, and it doesn't appear that your spouse wants to do the same, being an influence is so powerful. I was so bull-headed in the beginning, but Chris kept being persistent in expressing that he wanted to be a team. You can't break bull-headedness with bull-headedness. Patience, love, and persistence are going to be the only thing that will fine tune the team!
Hey, if you have more questions or concerns on this topic definitely leave a comment below or shoot me an email at estingrace AT gmail DOT com if you'd rather your comments remain private. This is a big thing in our homes so the more we share and ask, the better we all will be.