Click below to listen to Episode 26 – It’s All in the Family Part 2

It’s All in the Family Part 2

Tips for discussing your finances with your significant other.

In Part 2 of our 2 part series “It’s All In The Family”, Bob and Mary Jo discuss the importance of having financial conversations with your spouse in a sensitive and productive way. Having these conversations is usually anything but easy. So, in order to better provide a simple way to begin these conversations, Bob and Mary Jo offer “10 Tips for Talking With Your Spouse About Money”.

Talking about finances can be a taboo subject that is difficult to discuss. Let your partner know that you want to learn, and start the process slowly. Consider starting with, “Wouldn’t it be better if we started making financial decisions as a family? I’d like to help.”

Get started today!

HOSTED BY: Bob Barber, CWS® and Mary Jo Lyons, CFP®

Mentioned In This Episode

Christian Financial Advisors
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Bob Barber, CWS®, CKA®
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Mary Jo Lyons, CFP®, CKA®
Money And Marriage God’s Way
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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

[INTRODUCTION]

Bob: Welcome to Christian Financial Perspectives, a weekly podcast where we talk about ways to integrate your faith with your finances. This is Bob Barber.

Mary Jo: And I’m Mary Jo Lyons.

Bob: Are you ready to learn how to apply biblical wisdom to everyday financial decisions?

Mary Jo: Join us as we look at integrating your faith with your finances. If it’s your first time listening, welcome to our podcast, and if you’re a returning listener, welcome back.

[EPISODE]

Bob:
Genesis 2:24, “For this reason, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh.” This week, we’re going to continue our series on talking about talking. Talking with those you love about money, and we’re calling it “All In The Family.”

Mary Jo:
So last week, we discussed how to talk to your kids and your parents about money matters. In this week’s show, we’re going to explore ways to talk to your spouse about money matters. As we get started, there’s another scripture that I’d like to share. It speaks to being humble and gentle. This is so important as we face difficult conversations. And I will admit, it’s probably not my biggest strength, so I need to pray on that and get better at that myself.

Bob:
Amen. Mary Jo, I’m going to agree with you. Okay. It’s not my strength either, right? So I think we all just need to be humble here, and be transparent.

Mary Jo:
So from Ephesians 4 called “unity in the body”, “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourself united in the spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.”

Bob:
Let’s put that in big letters over our door post.

Mary Jo:
Over our threshold. Yes.

Bob:
Yep. You got it. As we talk about family and money, and last week, we talked about talking about money with your parents and your kids. Today, we’re talking about talking about money with your spouse, and this can be really hard. So you’ve got to do it with love within prayer, following God’s guidance and the Holy Spirit. This is so true in dealing with anything about your spouse. Like the scripture says, wives respect your husbands, husbands love your wives. And money challenges can create a true toxic environment in some homes, but it doesn’t have to. Many times, it’s one of the least discussed subjects in a relationship. And for many couples, it’s easier to hide it under their rug, avoid the elephant in the room, and just live in denial. But we’re hoping that you’ll keep listening today and follow with us because we’re going to give you some great information about how to talk with your spouse about money.

Mary Jo:
Bob, I have to think back as we get started on my own marriage of almost 37 years.

Bob:
That’s awesome. Mary Jo, congratulations. Anybody that can put up with you and Mike…

Mary Jo:
With each other.

Bob:
I’m just kidding you. I love both of you.

Mary Jo:
We realized how different things would have been had we been better equipped to deal with financial concerns and money management early in our relationship because we definitely struggled early on in that regard. And ironically so, as part of our wedding preparation, we were required to attend premarital counseling and participate in a series of meetings with a church sponsored couple, much like most young marrieds have to do now, I think. But what was really ironic about it is the husband of our sponsor couple was a banker, and he definitely talked to us about that. He shared how difficult money matters can be and proceeded to counsel us on how not to make common money mistakes. But he didn’t teach us how to talk to each other about money. We had very different money histories. We were raised very differently when it came to money. And so that was a challenge for us. Despite our best intentions, we made one financial misstep after another, and it took us a long time to learn better ways.

Bob:
There’s no perfect way. There’s no perfect right way to talk about it. There’s not one size fits all for this solution. I think the important thing to remember when you’re talking with your spouse about money, again, is pray about it. Talk about what’s important to you. Listen, listen, listen to the concerns of your partner. Remember, we have two ears and one tongue,

Mary Jo:
I’ve heard that. That’s funny, Bob, I’ve heard that said one mouth, but I liked the one tongue better.

Bob:
Yeah. And agree on that approach and really think about money issues. They can dredge up some bad memories from childhood. So be careful with that budgeting and discipline can also possibly feel like being controlled by the other spouse. Does that make sense, Mary Jo? Sure, absolutely. Have you heard the old saying what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is ours.

Mary Jo:
That’s how it works at my house.

Bob:
Yeah.

Mary Jo:
Is that how it is in your house? Wouldn’t Rachael say the same thing?

Bob:
She might, but this is interesting. This is interesting. This last point I want to make, one can be a spender and one can be a saver. And overboard, either one is not healthy, and I am very guilty of something, Mary Jo. I’m going to be transparent with our listeners. Here, I’ll get on Rachael about going and buying 3, 5, or 10 pair of dress shoes, but I’ll go buy the boat.

Mary Jo:
Exactly. Yes. You like those shiny toys.

Bob:
Exactly. So men, I’m speaking to you right now, our toys, when you add up the cost of that boat or that big truck, it’s much more expensive than shoes or some clothes. Yeah, that’s right.

Mary Jo:
All right. I always thought you can’t have too many shoes just like you can’t have too much money.

Bob:
One time I counted and I think I better not say it on the air, because if Rachael hears me say how many pairs of shoes she has, I might get in trouble and we’ve been married coming on 35 years, and I want to make it to 50.

Mary Jo:
Well, we’re working on downsizing and I haven’t gotten to my closet yet, but money secrets are common in a lot of marriages. In fact, financial issues are probably the single biggest issue that end most marriages. So, I think that’s true. We’ve all heard that.

Bob:
Yeah, we have. We’ve heard over and over it’s one of the number one stats, right behind divorce.

Mary Jo:
Yes. And about 50% of all marriages end in divorce. A lot of it is due to money. So, for our listeners out there, I actually have two questions that I want them to begin thinking about. Have you ever cheated on your partner with money? Have you even hid money or purchases from your partner or your spouse? I’m talking about those tags that you’ve taken off the new clothes.

Bob:
You see me shaking my head. I mean, I’m like, Oh my goodness.

Mary Jo:
You’ve hidden it in your car or in the back of your closet. You know what I’m talking about.

Bob:
Wouldn’t you say 100% of everybody that’s listening to us has probably done this.

Mary Jo:
Oh, I know. They’re laughing.

Bob:
Unless you’re perfect. If you are, congratulations.

Mary Jo:
I noticed my husband went to the Apple store the other day to get a new battery for his phone. And I kept looking around, what else did you buy?

Bob:
Where’s the new phone? Not just the battery, right.

Mary Jo:
He says he only got a battery. So, that was a first, but I’ve actually heard this referred to as money infidelity. And doesn’t that just paint an unpleasant picture in your mind’s eye?

Bob:
You’ve gotta admit. Yeah. I mean, as you’re talking to me, I’m just thinking, I might be guilty of a little bit of this, but it’s interesting, Mary Jo. It was in our earlier years when we were married. Not now. Seriously, I mean, we’re transparent and we know exactly what each other’s doing, but there’s no doubt in the beginning years that can happen. Like I said, we’ve been married 35 years. I’m going to be transparent. But the arguments that we’ve had have always pretty much about money it seems like.

Mary Jo:
And that’s another podcast, but that is what has moved me to become a financial advisor and a financial planner because we did get in financial trouble early on in our marriage. And it took hard, hard work to get out of it. And it was a lesson learned. And now, I feel like that’s my passion. And thus, the podcast.

Bob:
I hope everyone’s hearing, and we’re just two people. We’re not perfect either. We’re walking in life with you. We just want to help you along the way. So, we’ve got 10 suggestions about handling money matters within a marriage relationship. I think this list is one of the best lists you can come up with for best practices for talking to your spouse about money. It comes from a lot of personal experience, learning what works and what doesn’t from clients, friends, family. And as your trusted advisors, we are often called on to play the role of a counselor mediator in working on these questions.

Mary Jo:
Bob, there’s a couple of housekeeping steps that I think are important for us to think about as we begin to work our way down this list. I would encourage all the couples out there to think about these. First, you want to create a safe zone. Agree to get it all out on the table. I call that opening the kimono. You’ve got to put it all out there, and agree to move forward in a positive direction together without judgment and without blame. Be honest with yourself about your own expectations. When families agree that one spouse is a stay at home parent, this is particularly important. If you’ve always been independent, it may be a shock to suddenly be in a situation where now you’re dependent on someone else financially. It may be equally hard for the working spouse to deal as if they are the sole provider. That’s a pretty weighty burden, if you will, for somebody. Another challenge is when one partner brings home significantly more assets to the relationship. How will you handle this? This is a delicate balance and requires a thoughtful approach.

Bob:
I think these are all great suggestions. So, let’s get to it. Here we go. Number one, schedule regularly, family financial huddles, where you agree to discuss your financial life together. I would recommend you either do this weekly or biweekly, but the more, the better, especially during times of financial stress, but you gotta let that stress kind of come down, too. I mean, we’re not talking every day because that could be very stressful, but be disciplined about it. And I know, Mary Jo, just from my own marriage in many years, is that my wife likes to talk about this, put it on a schedule. Don’t start talking about this at 10 o’clock at night.

Mary Jo:
Or Sunday evening before the work week.

Bob:
But put it on a schedule and say, “We’re going to talk about this, and today is Monday. We’re going to talk about this Thursday. And maybe we can go out and talk about it and make an evening of it. But we’re going to set this time aside.”

Mary Jo:
So important. The next one is to practice active listening skills. As Bob said earlier, you’ve got two ears, one mouth or one tongue. So you’re going to listen more than you talk. And if you don’t know what this is, there’s a lot of tools out there and you need to learn. There’s a lot of available resources. One other thing you can do to be helpful with this is to ask clarifying questions to make sure you understand what the other one is saying. And when they are talking, make sure that you allow them time to get it all out. You can just say something like, well, is there anything else? Is there anything else you want to say? And make sure that they’ve had a chance to voice what’s on their heart.

Bob:
it reminds me of the scripture about the tongue, and I wish I had it right on the tip of my tongue. I’m trying to think of it. Oh, okay. I think it’s in James 3, the tongue is like a small rudder. You’ve gotta be careful with that tongue because a rudder can steer a whole ship one way or the other. I think it’s in the third chapter of James, but I don’t have time to look it up exactly right now while we’re in the middle of our program.

Mary Jo:
Well, that’s a great analogy, Bob.

Bob:
So where were we? We’re on number 3. That’s right. Decide if you’re going to pool your resources, maintain separate accounts, or possibly a yours, mine, and ours approach. Agree on how much or what proportion is agreeable to fund the household bucket. So let me give you some examples of this. So you could have one account and say, this is for all our general bills, right? For like your utilities, your house payment, et cetera. And then you had this other account over here. This is going to be maybe our gifting account or you each have your separate accounts. It’s just going to be play money, and ask what you’re referring to. Yeah, that’s the point that we’re trying to get to here is it’s okay to have some play money, but not too much.

Mary Jo:
Well, it needs to be agreed upon.

Bob:
Exactly. That’s right.

Mary Jo:
And think about what you want your money to do for you, and make sure you share this with your partner. So get clear on your individual and joint financial goals. I think that is so important for any young couples, especially when they’re engaged, before you get married. So that’s one of the things when you’re looking for a spouse and you’re entertaining that idea is this the one. You want to understand what their financial goals are and what they want their life to look like so that you can determine if you’re compatible in that regard.

Bob:
Number 5 is kind of like the one that I was just speaking to before, but really agree on how much spending money you can each have discretion over, if any. It may not be any yet in the beginning until you really get that budgeting down. It’s important to feel as if you can spend without having to answer for every single penny. And that could start with $50 and it could go to a hundred. I mean, it could go as high as $500 depending on where you are, but this depends on your income level. It’s also about principle and sharing those common goals.

Mary Jo:
Recognize that emotions often run high during periods of stress. So when you’re having these conversations, agree to take a break when tensions escalate. Take a breather. Reflect on what has been said and agree on when to come back together. So, do you just need to take a coffee break or do you need to come back tomorrow when you’ve both had time to kind of calm down. Make it useful to you, but don’t let too much time pass by.

Bob:
Mary Jo. This reminds me. Don’t go digging up old graves that have already been buried. Okay.

Mary Jo:
There was a country song, “Digging Up Bones”, I think that was Randy Travis.

Bob:
I remember that. Sure do. Agree on a saving strategy, too. This goes back to sharing those common goals. Determine how you’re going to work for those goals, such as retirement, or maybe that second home someday, then ask yourselves how are you gonna handle your personal wishlist, such as the new mountain bike or those nice shoes.

Mary Jo:
Are you talking about the red high heels, Bob?

Bob:
You put that in there. Where did that come from?

Mary Jo:
I think it’s what every woman wants. Me not so much anymore, but there was a time back in the day. So, number 8, we also want to encourage you to be gentle, be kind, but especially be respectful and use the language of love. I was in a restaurant once and I heard this daughter talking to her mom. And the husband and she had been fighting and she says, she’s really trying hard to talk in a love language with their spouse. I just thought wow. That’s wonderful. I should go look that up. But it stuck with me.

Bob:
Yeah. It reminds me of the Fruits of the Spirit there. I was thinking of the scripture from Galatians 5:22, “But the fruit of Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. Against such things there is no law. So think of think of that scripture. That scripture really goes with that number 8 there, doesn’t it?

Mary Jo:
It sure does.

Bob:
Number 9 is when you’re meeting and talking about money, use that time to discuss the challenges in regards to the kids and the parents as well, because you may be expected to help with those aging parents, and you need to come to an agreement early on about how you may handle that. Really get a good, clear understanding of each other’s situation, the family dynamics, and any expectations.

Mary Jo:
And finally number 10, create a balance of power in regards to money. It’s not fair that one spouse should shoulder all the responsibility. It’s also important that both spouses are knowledgeable. You don’t have to know how they built the clock, but you do need to know where the hands are and kind of how it generally runs. A power imbalance can have two very negative aspects. One spouse gets all the blame and the other one feels helpless, which only adds to the stress.

Bob:
Start this process slowly, as we come to the end here. Consider starting with wouldn’t it be better if we started making financial decisions as a couple and as a family. I’d like to help. Another approach is to let your partner know that you want to learn. “I’m concerned that I don’t know enough about our financial situation,” you might say. “I know I haven’t always made times for our finances, but I’d feel better if we shouldered this responsibility together.” And believe me, the spouse who has been taking care of all the finances will be glad to hear that.

Mary Jo:
There are a lot of great tools out there to help you along the journey. And one that we recommend is a book called “Money And Marriage God’s Way” by Howard Dayton. I’ve actually started giving this one out as an engagement gift or a shower gift for a lot of newly engaged couples. I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from that. These conversations, they’re going to be anything but easy, and we encourage you to get started today. Bob, as we wrap up, are there any other ideas or suggestions you have for our listeners out there?

Bob:
Mary Jo, we’ve shared so much today. Maybe the suggestion would be if somebody would like to see this list, they could give us a call.

Mary Jo:
Oh, absolutely.

Bob:
And we’ll be glad to share it with them, because we’ve gone over a lot of things in this two part series “All In The Family”. So we’re here for you. We know that this can be a difficult subject, as we said earlier in the program today. It’s one of the major causes of divorce, and we know that money can be very hard to talk about, but we love you, and we’re here to walk beside you. Remember the scripture, Proverbs 15:22, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed.” And we want to do it from a godly perspective.

[DISCLOSURES]

Comments from today’s show are for informational purposes only and not to be considered investment advice or recommendations to buy or sell any company that may have been mentioned or discussed. The opinions expressed are solely those of the hosts, Bob Barber and Mary Jo Lyons. Bob and Mary Jo do not provide tax advice and encourage you to seek guidance from a tax professional. Investment advisory services offered through Christian Investment Advisors Inc. DBA Christian Financial Advisors, a registered investment advisor.