Money is a challenge for most married couples. In fact, statistics reveal that money issues lead to 22% of divorces. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to become part of that statistic. Knowing that, I wanted to take some time today to share how Justin and I have approached our money issues over the years, as well as some general strategies to help you create better money goals with your spouse.
Step #1: Know Your Individual Goals
One of the most effective ways that Justin and I have navigated our combined finances getting really clear on our individual financial goals. Before discussing our goals together for the upcoming month, quarter, or year, we both take the time to decide what matters most to us on an individual level.
Now, don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean that we both 100% get what we want, but it does mean that we have a good starting place to help determine which goals we are going to prioritize and what can be pushed to the back burner.
For example, while I might be more interested in saving money for a family vacation this summer, Justin’s goal might be centered around putting enough money aside to participate in a weekly gaming competition. There’s nothing wrong with either of those goals, but if we aren’t clear on them, then we can’t communicate them effectively, and we will likely end up resenting one another when our individual goals (needs or wants) aren’t met.
Take the time to ask yourself:
- What financial goals matter to me, personally?
- What’s the time frame for that goal?
- Is it a goal that affects the entire family or just me?
The more you can clarify ahead of time, the better you’ll be able to communicate it with your spouse.
Step #2: Know Your Mutual Goals
The next step to this process is to be acutely aware of your mutual goals. These are goals that you BOTH believe to be critical to achieving long-term financial success.
Compare Your Lists
Take time together to compare your individual lists of goals for similarities. If you both want to fund that emergency fund, then that can go onto your mutual goals list. Write down as many similarities as you have and discuss any other areas of the budget that you didn’t think about individually.
Rank Your Mutual Goals
Once that’s complete, take a few minutes to rank those mutual goals in order of priority.
In our home, mutual goals typically include things like:
- Emergency savings
- Debt payoff
- Home maintenance
- Family vacations
…among other things. They are things that affect the entire family and either provide a layer of financial security or allow us to create memories together. Of course, your mutual goals might look much different than ours. That’s to be expected!
Rank Your Individual Goals
After prioritizing your mutual goals, it’s time to rank your individual goals. Take a look at each person’s list and decide together which goals you’ll address now – during the upcoming time period – and which goals might need to be placed on hold for the time being.
A few questions to ask might include:
- Is this a goal that can be funded through our individual spending allotments? If so, then it remains an individual goal.
- Is this goal going to affect the entire family? If so, is it something that needs to happen now, or should it wait until a future date or until another “priority” goal has been achieved?
- Is this a goal that we can accommodate within our current budget and income? If not, then it may need to wait until a future date.
Complete this process with each individual goal listed. Obviously, there are some individual goals that will rank higher than others. For example, if your spouse’s goal is to complete a training in order to get a pay raise at work, that clearly will benefit the whole family long-term. That’s completely different than a goal that requires you to spend money you don’t have with no return on investment.
Step #3: Communicate Clearly
Once you prioritize your goals, both mutual and individual, it’s time to clearly lay out how you will achieve those goals. You not only need to know the specific goal you’re working toward but also be specific about when you hope to achieve that goal, what sacrifices will need to be made, and what the reward or incentive might be when you complete it.
Communication is key. If you and your spouse aren’t on the same page, your goals will likely fail, and your budget might fail, too.
Tip: I recommend setting aside time with your spouse AT LEAST once per month to discuss your goals, your budget, and the progress that’s been made. This time allows you to look at each line item together and decide whether you’re making the best financial decisions with the income you have. It works for us, and I know that it can work for you too!
Create Better Money Goals With Your Spouse
Creating and achieving your financial goals alongside your spouse might not come easy. In fact, it might come with a lot of restarts and reassessments. Just know that it’ll be worth it when you achieve that goal together.
Note: Once you know your goals and you and your spouse are on the same page, it’s important to actually CREATE a budget if you don’t have one already. Grab my FREE Monthly Family Budget Worksheet to help you do just that. Together you’ll be able to see all of your numbers, make changes as necessary, and celebrate the progress along the way. Find it HERE.
And no matter what, make sure you give grace to yourself and each other as you work to make a better future together.
Cheering you on!