This week my husband and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary, and it got me thinking about how much we’ve learned about love, marriage, and money.
So today I am sharing 15 things I’ve learned about money management in 15 years of marriage.
1. How you do your wedding doesn’t matter all that much.
I know that there are those who say a big wedding is fun and that larger weddings have a greater chance of succeeding. But I disagree. I think marrying the right person is far more important than how expensive your wedding is or how many people witness it. My husband and I had a small outdoor wedding with just 17 people in attendance. Then we had a nice dinner afterwards. We have the same marriage certificate that says we’re married as the folks who spent $20,000.
2. Combining accounts teaches you to talk about money issues.
We made the decision early on to combine our accounts. Why? Because it means that we have to talk about money issues. We have to deal with our spending differences. We set money rules. We have to know what is going on with our money. We believe that we came together to form a union and that dividing up the finances would divide us as well.
3. Getting on the same page is critical to good money management.
Life is so much better when you and your spouse are on the same page about money. Early on in our marriage, I read the personal finance book that changed my life, and even though my husband still hasn’t read the book, he recognized the lessons I learned from it and was on board with kicking debt to the curb. We share many of the same ideas about where to live, where to work, and how to manage money and that helps a lot.
4. It’s okay if you approach money differently.
Being on the same page is great, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have differences, and that is okay. My husband comes from a long line of spenders and I have always been a saver. We have learned from each other. I’ve learned to take a few more risks and to splurge occasionally. He’s learned to save for a rainy day. If one person feels stuck, the other can often think of a solution. I don’t know if we would be as creative about managing our money if it weren’t for our differences.
5. Make sure each person feels an equal part of the team.
I’m a stay-at-home mom turned work-at-home mom whose income is not what one would consider full-time. But yet, my husband recognizes that I play an important role in managing the day-t0-day household operations. I’m more than just a homemaker. He’s more than just the main breadwinner.
6. Regular money talks are essential.
We try to have regular conversations about money. Sometimes they are “date nights,” and other times it is just a conversation on the couch on a Sunday evening. The important thing is that we regularly talk about the status of our finances and brainstorm ways we can make positive changes.
7. There should be no secrets about money.
If you’re having regular conversations about money, then keep them honest. Don’t hide purchases from your spouse. Don’t hide money from your spouse. The only exception may be to buy them a gift, but….
8. Gifts are nice, but overrated.
The longer we are together, the more we realize that we don’t need gifts to show our love for each other. Let your love language be in your actions, not things, and you will be much happier. I would rather have a spouse who treats me and our children with love and kindness then one who absently buys me expensive things I don’t need.
9. Be united when it comes to spending on the kids.
We agree on how much to spend on gifts for the kids. We discuss paying for their extra-curriculars. We set limits on their spending and encourage them to be savers. It makes it much easier to parent when we have a united front.
10. Do not let dark times derail you from your goals.
No marriage is perfect, and ours hasn’t been either. We have had times where we struggled, but we didn’t let that unravel our plans. We did not spend our way out of our problems. We stayed on course and worked things out.
11. Keep encouraging each other.
Having the love and support of another person can help you be a more confident and passionate person. Those attributes can help you solve money problems and attract new ways to bring in money. Sometimes marriage and kids and money are tough things to deal with. The encouragement from a loving partner makes it easier to bear.
12. The best vacations are the ones you can afford.
We haven’t taken more than a handful of vacations since we’ve been married because we have not had money in the budget. But here’s the thing: When we did have the budget, those vacations were full of fun and adventure and brought us great memories without the stress of wondering how to pay for it all.
13. The best date nights are the low-cost ones.
Expensive dinners and posh events are fine for some folks, but we’d much rather grab a quick dinner and a movie. Or even just rent a movie and snuggle up on the couch. The important thing is that we make time for each other, not spend a bunch of money we’ll regret later.
14. Plan ahead for your future.
It’s been a challenge to put away an emergency fund and save for retirement, but we want our future to be secure. We set goals for things like major purchases or future vacations. And we make sure that each one is taken care of if the worst should happen. We do these things because we love and care for each other. We are more willing to work on issues we have, if we know what the goal is.
15. Life is better when you share it with your best friend.
I’m the luckiest girl in the world because I got to marry my best friend. No matter what is in our bank accounts, I know that I am rich with my husband by my side.
Your turn: How many years have you been married? What things have you learned about love, marriage and money?