Financial improvement is a family affair

If you're in a marriage or a long-term relationship, financial improvement won't happen unless both partners are committed to it. 

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP/File
Army Capt. Michael Potoczniak, left, and Todd Saunders, of El Cerrito, Calif., show their wedding rings after they exchanged vows at City Hall in San Francisco in June. Hamm writes that improving finances is something with which both members of a marriage or a committed relationship need to be on board.

I’m going to give you a quick sample of a key sentence or two from several recent reader emails.

Now if I could only get my husband on board.

The next stop? Getting the credit cards out of her hands.

Now I just need to convince her to stop using the debit card every time she wants something.

If my husband would stop golfing three times a week this would work out well.

She isn’t really on board with this so I don’t know how it will work.

Here’s a quick truth for you: if you’re married or in a long-term committed relationship, financial improvement won’t happen unless you’re both on board with it.

If your partner isn’t committed to spending less, then any spending you cut from your own personal expenditures will be quickly devoured by the lack of spending controls in your marriage. In other words, your partner will find a way to spend it because your partner isn’t motivated to cut spending.

There are a few financial moves you can make on your own if you don’t have a full family commitment.

You can contribute more to your own retirement plan. Just go to the human resources office and either start a retirement plan (if available) or bump up your own contribution.

You can start your own savings plan. Open a savings account at another bank and transfer money regularly from your primary checking to this private savings account.

The problem with both of these ideas is that they both reduce the pool of available money in your checking account and if it’s not also met with some spending changes on at least your behalf, it’s not going to fix anything on its own.

The key thing to remember is this: when you’re in a committed relationship with fully shared expenses, every dollar you spend or your partner spends costs both of you. It’s money that’s taken away from saving for the future. It’s money that’s taken away from your collective retirement savings. It’s money that’s taken away from your collective emergency fund. If you’re using a credit card, it’s costing you both in the form of interest if you don’t pay it off within a few weeks.

So, what do you do if your partner isn’t on board with the financial change you seek? I’d suggest that you both read Smart Couples Finish Rich by David Bach, but this would require your partner’s willingness to read such a book. If your partner isn’t even willing to think about it, I would suggest marriage counseling, as a deep fundamental disagreement as to what to do with the fruits of your collective labor is something that can very quickly damage a marriage to its very core.

This isn’t really an optional thing. You need a full family commitment to financial success in order to achieve it. If one partner isn’t on board with this or is secretly spending money, you’re never going to find the success you desire and that your family deserves.

The post The Full Family Commitment appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.