Money Matters

May 29, 2019

The leading cause of fights between couples is money. Ironically it is also the topic many couples avoid talking about. It is not a surprise that money is often listed in the top 10 reasons for divorce.

It's hard to have a happy marriage when you have continuous stress over money. This stress spills over into other areas of your marriage as well.

A recent study released last week showed that four in ten Americans can’t cover and unexpected $400 expense.

Last week I had a $430 unexpected plumbing expense. I was annoyed but just wrote the check, no stress.

After my first divorce as a single dad with two kids with 50/50 custody I freaked out when I figured out after three months that I was spending more than I made!

By pure luck about the same time I heard this crazy guy with a Southern accent on the radio, Dave Ramsey. I listened for a week, went online and signed up for his Financial Peace course being offered at a local church.

By the end of the 13 weeks almost half the class had dropped out or stopped coming.

I am part of the Dave Ramsey cult. I paid off 27,433.11 in debt in just nine months. Other than mortgages I was debt free for the first time in 20 years and no longer running at a deficit each month.

While writing this article I'm sitting in my paid for house and I do not owe a single dollar to anyone in the world. I am not bragging it's just a statement of fact.

I was not always this way; I use to be normal which meant I spent all the money that came into the house with my wife and then as a single guy. Credit cards, car loans etc.

The advantages of living a debt-free lifestyle are many not the least of which is peace of mind. It allows me to have a good monthly budget amount planned for vacations. I take at least two trips if not more year.

This year my hiking trip is a week in Iceland then this fall to Ireland with friends for ten days. By planning and budgeting for the trips everything is paid for in advance and cash is used along the way.

There's nothing worse than a dream vacation turning into a nightmare when $1,500 of credit card bills following you home.

There are disadvantage as well. I don't drive a new car, I drive a car that meets my needs that I paid cash for.

One problem is we don't teach any financial skills to kids in high school. We teach trigonometry but not how to balance a check book. That is changing as Dave Ramsey has designed a financial literacy course that is taught in a significant number of high schools throughout the country now. If nothing else will give the kids a baseline education in finances, budgeting and the dangers of debt.

Money issues are a common theme with many of the guys on the forms and men’s groups that I am part of. They have both money and marital problems.

One spouse often handles all the money issues and the stress that goes with it. With men if there are big issues it is not uncommon for them to not to tell their wife as they try to fix it. They mean well but when the car gets repossessed or the house foreclosed on it causes significant damage to the relationship and creates a lot of trust issues.

I would recommend Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace course as part of premarital counseling because you need to be on the same page as your spouse when it comes to money. If you are married it’s a great way to get you both on the same page financially.

If you are already married what are the keys to financial success?

Communication, budgeting and having a joint vision. From there the Dave Ramsey principles will serve you well.

· Live on a budget get out of debt.

· Have an emergency fund.

· Live on less than you make.

· Sit down together as a couple and figure out a budget.

It also means occasionally having to say no to things she wants but doesn't need. As a man it means you must follow the budget and say no to yourself also.

After becoming debt free I was one of the first instructors to teach Financial Peace at my church. What I learned doing this shocked me. Many couples told me that the class had improved their marriages as they now could talk about money without arguing. This came from long term couples that everyone thought had “great marriages”.

This goes with a study that showed that 87% of those who felt they had a “great” marriage work together to set long-term goals for their money.

If you want or need help with this feel free to reach out to me.

What legacy do you want to leave when you die? A financial mess requiring your kids borrow money for your funeral, or having an estate that can allow them to pay off their houses, fund your grand kids’ college funds, after you have lived a generous and wonderful life?  

It’s never too late to get started.

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