If you want to save your money and marriage, financial balance is crucial. If you want to see an illustration of that idea, consider my friend Jim. I’ve never seen a person more upset.
His multi-million dollar business, his baby, was dying. He worked hard for 23 years and grew his enterprise from a small business idea to a major success. He gave up so much. He was his business.
It was dying now and there was nothing he could do to stop it. Even though he would still be left with a net worth exceeding $15 million, the death of his business incapacitated him completely. Worse, he was about to lose his marriage too.
He couldn’t stop thinking about the business and his wife had enough. Even though he had no prior history of compulsive behavior, he became a recluse. He refused to leave his home. He wouldn’t eat or bathe.
Eventually, Jim’s family had to put him into an institution. The money he had left was no good to him because the money he lost was much more powerful in his mind.
While Jim is an extreme example, he isn’t the only person bananas over the buck. According to a Pew Research Center poll (10-18-06 to 11-9-06), 60 million Americans worry about money most of the time. These people are smitten with money misery. In fact, only 15% of us are satisfied with our financial situation.
In 25 years of helping people make smart decisions about money, I’ve come to two conclusions:
First, there are many simple things that people can do to make their financial lives much better.
Second, there are some things we can’t change.
For now, let’s focus on the things you can change.
1. Get clear on your priorities.
Do you know what’s important about money to you? Here’s a hint; it has nothing to do with what anyone else thinks. Take a minute and define success on your own terms. That will help you navigate financial troubles. Talk about your priorities and find out about your partner’s priorities as well. Don’t judge. Listen. Try to find common ground.
2. Are you living in a way that is consistent with your priorities?
The only way to really know this is by taking a good hard look at your spending habits. I use a program called YNAB but you can use any system you like. Take a look at each item you spend money on and ask yourself if that expense is consistent with or in contrast to your ultimate priorities in life. The answer won’t be hard to find and once you have the answer, you’ll know what to do.
3. Plan for your future.
You don’t have to spend a great deal of money on a financial plan. You can and should create your own financial plan and update it often. This way you will know if you are on track or need to make minor adjustments.
Having a peaceful marriage depends on your ability to communicate and reach agreement about your finances. Take these three steps and you will eliminate 90% of all the struggles you currently have.
Are you struggling with finances in your relationship? Have you found a way to resolve those differences? What did you do?