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Date Night Live Talk: Love and Money
Let’s begin with an easy question: How many people have ever had a fight over money? Everyone who is married here, I assume is raising their hands. If you are married and not raising your hand tonight, then I may just give you the stage tonight!
How about an example from personal experience: Have you ever gotten in trouble with your spouse because you ordered something online and your spouse was angry when the box showed up at your door? You walked in the door from work to the evil eye and the question, “what did you order from Amazon now?”
Well, I’ve been a happily married man for 10 years now, and I just want to pass along a few lessons I have learned about married life and money along the way. I can’t promise that you won’t feel uncomfortable as we cover this topic tonight—this is a subject where most married couples expect to get a nudge, nudge or a piercing look as it is discussed, but I do promise to cover some things that might keep you from ever getting that look again. That’s worth fifteen awkward minutes, right?
Here’s the deal: struggling with finances isn’t just an issue, it is a marriage killer. And it kills a marriage in a way too, that’s why its so dangerous. Money is a constant source of friction and tension between couples that have issues managing it. Keyword there: frequent. Some counselors say it’s the reason for 1/3 of arguments in the average marriage. That’s got to end if the marriage is to survive. Why? Because it destroys love. We talk a lot here about making regular deposits into your spouse’s love bank…and about avoiding things that make withdrawals. If you and your spouse argue about finances often, you are making a lot of withdrawals…and that will destroy the love you have for that person. You want your marriage to look like this (full jar), not like this (empty jar). The Bible says it like this:
If you bite and devour one another, watch out, or you will be consumed by one another. (Gal 5:15, HCSB)
The power of your interactions over time is what matters. You need more positive than negative ones. And you need to eliminate finances from being a negative one.
But its even bigger than that because men and women are different, and this impacts women differently than men. Most men, when we go shopping, we go out to one store with the perfect purchase in mind. We find it, we buy it, and we leave. Women explore. They spend hours just looking and comparing and considering. Men take minutes to shop, women take hours.
We are different, and for our wives far more than for husbands, messing with money is not just an attack on money, its an attack on security. Most women see money as security. When you attack a women’s bank account, you attack her sense of security…and security is the foundation that love builds upon. If you harm it, you harm love.
Now, I have a five month old boy, Eli, who makes this lesson extremely real for me. The thing Eli has needed from me and Stacy for the past four months is a sense of security – that’s the first lesson he learns in this life. He is incapable of feeding, and warming, and moving himself around, and he needs to know that someone cares enough to come to his aid when he cries. Eventually he will learn to calm himself and be patient…but not until he has spent a few months building the assurance in his heart and mind that someone will come to his rescue when he really needs them. When he finally gets that message, he will find the will and power to smile, laugh, and love. That’s the way our wives feel too, many times. They need to be free from the worry that a random purchase or a major life accident is going to cause the mortgage to go unpaid and the power to get turned off. They need to know that they can get sick and miss a few days of work without causing major distress to the finances.
While our security should ultimately be in God—and we should be ok if we lose everything because we have God, we should also plan and build our lives with stability. It’s the wise thing to do. It’s the best environment for the love of our marriage to thrive in and for children to grow up in.
God gave your wife this capacity for a reason: You are better together! You are better together. In most every relationship, there is one saver, and one spender. You are better together. God gave you your opposite to give your life balance…because either extreme is dangerous. You can work together without constant conflict if you manage your differences proactively.
You are also better together because you make purchases better together. The advantage of having two people spending money, is that one person is usually emotionally disconnected from the item being purchased. They can keep emotion from causing you to make a bad decision.
Its football season, lighting kills your living room TV. You go to the store and fall in love with the 90” 4D surround sound plasma LED ambient light Samsung Google television. But just before you sign over your firstborn child as downpayment for the car-sized financing agreement, your spouse reminds you that you’ve had a 32” tube TV for 10 years and a 70” insignia TV at best buy will suffice. Balance. Compromise. Wisdom asks for advice. Two opinions biased in opposite directions lead you to a happy medium.
If I managed your money, you wouldn’t let you buy a ton of stuff that you buy. I would make your budget efficient…I’d also probably make your life miserable because I wouldn’t have to live in the world I gave you the money to build. Some emotional connection is good…but too much is disastrous. You are better together.
You are better together—but you have to learn to work together. Most people never learn how to work together on finances. Here’s my advice on how to Get Better at Managing Money:
The best way to eliminate arguing over money: get all of your arguments out right now, once and for all with a budget. Decide now how you are going to spend your money each month. Fight until you agree, once for all…or at least once for a while. The keyword here is negotiation. Find out how much money you have to spend outside your fixed expenses, then decide how you are going to spend it together. You won’t get everything you want, but you find descent middle ground and you’ll eliminate arguments as long as you stick to the plan.
The hardest part about this is the arguments that form over where money gets spent. People get very emotional when they begin to realize where the money is going. You feel the need to justify your spending. You get angry over having to give up something: You can’t go out to each at Logans steakhouse every day for lunch. Money reveals the heart—and the heart fights for what it’s used to. When you find yourself in an argument, try to stop and remove the emotion. Make sure you look at each situation from your spouse’s situation. Compromise. Don’t demand your way. And if you simply can’t agree, ask another trusted couple for their opinion, and go with it.
“Where your treasure is, there your heart is also.” ~ Matthew 6:21
Don’t think of a budget as restricting you, think of it at freeing you! You’ll feel better about making purchases if you know you can afford it. Your spouse can’t be mad at you for spending money on the things you have budgeted for. If you want to buy a tacky Hawaiian shirt with your clothing money, or spend your fun money on an inflatable pink flamingo for the front yard, well, it was your money to spend. You can also give money away knowing that it won’t harm you. You feel great knowing your spending isn’t affecting anything else.
The best way to give your wife a lasting sense of security: plan for rainy days. Start an emergency fund. You need money for a rainy day – you’ll have one often. Babies arriving. Car wrecks. Sicknesses and surgeries, cancer, even death. If you don’t have an emergency fund, or your emergency plan is a credit card, get started by putting a minimum of $1,000 away somewhere only for emergencies. The best plan is to set aside 3-6 months’ worth of expenses that you can live off of if life really starts to fall apart. The Bible describes this wisdom in this way:
Go watch the ants, you lazy person.
Watch what they do and be wise.
Ants have no commander,
no leader or ruler,
but they store up food in the summer
and gather their supplies at harvest.
~ Proverbs 6:6-8
I would also suggest being prepared to provide for your spouse in the case of your death by purchasing some life insurance. If my wife were to lose me, I would hate for her to have to sell the house, move home to her family, take the kids out of school, leave her church family, all because she didn’t have money to live off of in my absence. My insurance will replace my current income for 10 years if I die. I don’t make much, granted, but it would take descent care of her and Eli if I died. Don’t make it too tempting for your wife…you don’t want her encouraging you to deploy into a dangerous combat zone!
Your also going to need some savings for retirement too, don’t forget. You can’t work forever, unless you plan to be a Walmart greeter.You need money to retire on. The earlier you put money away, the more you’ll have. Let the saver save here. 10% of your income is a good amount to put away each month.
Here are a few Practical Tips as we close. Let the saver perfect the budget and track it…but agree together on the plan, and meet together to review how you have done. The saver is good with numbers…let them do the numbers. And saver—don’t expect the spender to do the numbers part, and don’t expect them to enjoy the process. Be glad that they are participating. Don’t nag them for not being happy about it. Also, when you budget, give the spender fun money…and let them blow it on whatever they want. They need some room to have fun.
Learn to get stuff cheaper! Find a discount for your dinners out, your groceries, and your car. Go to the movies for the $5 matinee. Go to Goodwill. Better yet, go to Goodwill on the first Saturday of the month when everything is 50% off. Price compare on Amazon.com. Save money where you can and there will be more money to spend. Bargain shopping is just another way to keep emotion from taking over your spending decisions.
Lastly, don’t do this on your own. The wise thing you can do is to learn from an expert! Not a friend who lives in a run down shack, a salesman, or even a pastor. Find a financially successful person and learn from them. Consider taking a Dave Ramsey course.
As you leave today, we have a tools you can take with you, and a few suggestions for your next steps.
We have a sample budget form for you to be able to use. Make sure you do a budget, or update the one you have. AND make sure you are tracking it regularly. It only helps if you stick with it.
Join a small group, take Financial Peace, or do the Financial Study with your group if you need more tools to help and more couples for encouragement.
Look for help at DaveRamsey.com under “Marriage & Money”