So you say you can’t keep track of your money because you’re a couple? “He always…” and “She never…” and all of those excuses that get you nowhere? And if you’re both spiraling in debt, any conversation about your joint money troubles usually turns into a hellish blaming-and–shaming session.
So here’s a thought to ponder: what would your relationship look like without money drama? What would it feel like without the high-wire tight-rope act of no clarity and drama-induced sessions of trying to make post-disaster sense of it all?
No kidding—take a second and envision it. I know what you’re thinking. “If I we (or he or she) just made more money, we’d be fine.” Here’s a news flash: no you wouldn’t. You’d be in just as much trouble, except that the debt numbers would be higher. You'd be on just as much of a roller coaster as you are now together. Debt is a process addiction, and vagueness assists it just like the expert enabler it is.
Do you both spend from the same account and never check in on what the other is spending beforehand? Do you neglect to write anything in the checkbook? Do you practice “blinders on” money management—hoping against hope that while you’re spending, your partner isn’t spending anything? Do you use credit cards to extend your income with no planning on how much you can afford?
I can guarantee you that if you do, you’re in trouble as a couple.
So what can you do? Get a spending plan—one for each of you—and be responsible for the amounts in it every month. Plan what you’ll have for food, fuel, drug store, etc. and decide who pays each bill, and who pays which expenses.
Don’t think for a moment that you get to check out and dump your troubled finances on your spouse. That immaturity will take its toll on your intimate life, absolutely. In debtor couples, each partner needs to be responsible for paying some bills and for managing their own part of the expenses. I recommend that each partner have his or her own account, then divide up the money and assign the bills and the expenses.
There’s a detailed chapter in my upcoming book The Debt-Free Spending Plan on couples and money that will help you figure out to create the clarity you need to stop fueling drama and start funding peace in your partnership with your finances.
Here’s the payoff: you’ll still have money decisions—you just won’t have money drama. No fights, no standoffs, no feuds, no childishness. Just you and your loved one and no elephant in the room. Imagine how blissful that will be.