Money is one of the biggest causes of divorce in the U.K. In this blog post, I share 9 money lessons I’ve learnt in 9 years of marriage. To be honest, I could probably write 90 things with the amount of lessons we’ve learnt the hard way. I hope you find it useful and insightful.
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In July this year my husband and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been married for so long – it seems like it was only a couple of years ago! However, when I look back at our wedding pictures I quickly realise that it was definitely nearly a decade ago. We’ve aged considerably!
On our anniversary I did a post on my Instagram page sharing 9 things I’ve learnt about money in 9 years of marriage. The post had a lot of comments, likes and shares so I realsied this was something that people are interested in hearing about.
I decided to turn that Instagram post into a blog post so that I could expand on those lessons that I’ve learned. My hope is that it would help any newly married couples, or anyone aspiring to get married to avoid some of the mistakes that we made early on in marriage.
So with that being said, in this blog post I share 9 things I’ve learnt about money in 9 years of marriage. To be honest, I could probably write 90 things with the amount of lessons we’ve learnt the hard way, but it’s all good, you grow through what you go through. I hope you find it useful!
Number one on the list has to be the importance of avoiding consumer debt. While arguably there are some ‘good’ debts such as a mortgage, the majority of consumer debt is bad and unnecessary. If you can’t afford to pay cash for something that you want then you can’t afford it. Avoid the temptation to buy now and pay later.
We did this on so many occasions which is how we ended up in £36,000 worth of debt. I paid over £3,000 to carpet our house on credit, we went on holiday on credit, and so much more on credit. It’s all fun and games when you’re racking up the debt, but trust me when I say, paying it all back is no fund at all! Avoid consumer debt at all costs.
Over 42% of marriages in the U.K. end in divorce – that’s huge! Money problems are one of the top 10 reasons people get divorced. One of the quickest ways to end up being part of that statistic is by keeping secrets about money.
I’m by no means a relationship expert, but one thing I have learnt in my 9 years of marriage is that open and honest lines of communication are essential. Your partner is your partner, he/ she should have your back no matter what so you should be able to trust them when it comes to your finances. The good, the bad and the ugly, they should be in the know.
Thankfully we learnt this lesson very early on in marriage. Even before we got married we discussed our finances and asked each other how much debt if any we each had. I only had my student loan and my husband had his student loan and overdraft.
The best things in life are free! Sounds so cliche but it really is true. When you realise this, you’re relieved of the pressure to feel the need to spend a fortune just to celebrate special occasions. By all means if you can afford to, and it’s within your budget, go wild and spend till your heart’s content.
You don’t have to do this though. I’m a firm believer that where there’s a will there’s a frugal way. Once in a while, challenge yourself to celebrate a special occasion on a restricted budget and watch your creative juices flow.
I’ve mentioned this before in an earlier post, the best gift my husband ever got me was inexpensive but extremely sentimental. He painted a gorgeous picture of us together. It took him hours to paint that picture and it means more to me than any elaborate or expensive gift would.
This is something we only started to do in the last 5 years of marriage. That was a big mistake on our part. From the start of marriage it’s important to have regular money conversations. During our first few years of marriage, our money conversations were limited to “Transfer me ___” , “Have you paid for ____”, “Can you buy____?”
Who do you talk to about money? A lot of us don’t talk to our friends and family about money, we should at least be able to have these conversations with our spouses. “How are we doing financially?”, “What areas are we doing well in?”, “What areas do we need to improve in?”, “How can we grow financially?”, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”, “What money lessons have you learnt this year?” These are just some of the questions that couples could be asking each other.
It’s important to have meaningful in depth conversations about money with your spouse so that you can financially grow together.
Hubby could wear the same one pair of trainers every day until the rubber wears thin and the soles start talking. Only then would he feel the need to replace them. I, on the other hand, like to have options. I can have 10 pairs of black shoes. All very different (or so I tell myself). He never understood why I needed to have so many versions of the same thing – to him that was a waste of money.
We established very early on in our relationship that I am the spender and Hubby is the saver. That’s perfectly fine, they do say that opposites attract! The goal isn’t for me to turn him into me, or vice-versa. We do however need to compromise and find a happy medium.
This is where the beauty of a budget comes in! Since creating a thorough zero-based budget for our family, we’re on the same page when it comes to where and how we spend our money. We both have our fun money allocations and I’m free to spend it as I wish. If I want to buy 1,00 black shoes, I can and he won’t say a word. He might give me the side-eye but that’s about it.
It’s OK to have different views of money, but for peace sake it’s important to agree on one approach.
If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you ever know if you’ve arrived at your destination?
I’m a little embarrassed to admit that it wasn’t until the start of 2017 that we sat down and set clear financial goals. I guess you can say that, before 2017 we were just winging it. There was no clear plan, goal or strategy, so it’s no surprise we ended up getting ourselves into such a bad financial mess.
The devil makes work for idle hands. Without a clear plan or focus or intentions for your money, it’s easy for the money to slip through your fingers. You may not end up getting yourself into thousands of pounds or dollars worth of debt like we did, but without a clear plan for your money, you’ll never have serious money.
What are your short medium and long term goals? Discuss them, write them, commit to them and work diligently towards achieving them.Having each other as accountability partners will make your goals a lot more achievable.
This was one piece of advice we received very early on our marriage and we’ve always viewed finances in this way. It’s not my money, it’s our money. When we first got married I earned more money than my husband. Fast forward 9 years and he earns a lot more than I did in the early days.
Teamwork makes the dream work. I strongly believe that when you get married the two become one. This applies in all areas, particularly when it comes to finances. You may earn £20,000 a year and your spouse earns £80,000 it doesn’t matter. Make the decision that all the money that comes into the household belongs to you both.
Having this view of money helps remove ego from the relationship. I don’t have to feel a way about asking my husband for money or vice-versa, it’s our money so it doesn’t matter. We’re a team so we make decisions together about how all the income that we bring into the household is distributed. This approach has served us well so far.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to 1) Have a written budget and 2) stick to the budget. The budget only works when you’re both on the same page and make the agreement to respect the budget.
If you had asked us early on in marriage if we had a budget we would have said that we did. I always thought we had a budget, however having a rough idea of your outgoings is not the same as having a written budget.
Do you know how much you spend on groceries every month? What about utility bills? How about petrol for the car? Ok, what about allocations for savings? It’s important to know exactly where your money is going every month so that you can build a strong financial future together.
It’s one thing having a plan for the money, but that plan only works if both parties stick to the plan. I mentioned earlier that I am the spender and my husband is the saver in our relationship. We had to agree on a reasonable spending allowance to each have and I have to stick to it. I can’t lie, there have been times that I’ve asked my husband for some of his allowance because I’ve overspent (don’t judge me, I’m a work in progress!), but I would never take fun money from any of the other spending categories. I respect the budget!
I really don’t like to sound like a broken record, but if there’s one point that I really want you to pay attention to in this blog post – this is it. If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times, don’t keep up with the Joneses.
One of the biggest financial mistakes we made in marriage was trying to keep up with the Joneses and not setting financial boundaries. It’s ok to say no if people invite you places if it’s not within your budget.
Prioritise your home and your financial goals and if what’s been asked of you doesn’t align with that and is out of your budget, say no and keep it moving.
Your people are your people and they should understand. If they do not, too bad, don’t compromise your financial goals to appease people. You can’t please all the people, all the time!
These are just 9 money lessons in 9 years of marriage. I probably could write a whole book on this topic but I’ll leave it right here as I think the title has a nice ring to it. By God’s grace next year I can do a follow up sharing 10 things I’ve learnt about money in marriage!
Are you newly married? Want to be married? Or long-term married? I hope whatever your marital status is, you found this article interesting and insightful. Let me know what you thought of this post in the comments section below and any money lessons you’ve learnt in marriage.
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Wife and mum of three boys on a journey to achieve financial freedom. Earn more, spend less and invest the difference.