Why is financial literacy a necessary skill for couples in today’s evolving world? According to a survey done by the Huffington Post, the #1 cause of divorce was NOT infidelity but Financial Stress (and this is gradually becoming a worldwide trend!) Surprised? Well, don’t be. Financial compatibility is very important to the overall health of a relationship because it is a powerful indicator of how other areas will manifest. Is money used as a tool to control and manipulate OR as a tool to empower and create a more loving relationship?
A couple’s mindset on money matters often influences their individual and collective approach to life in general, their faith and how they worship God, their parenting styles, how they show emotions, their spending/saving habits, how they accumulate and view debt, how they solve problems, their relationship with in-laws and other extended family members, their ability to plan, be responsible and the actions (or inactions) they take.
Is financial literacy important for couples? You bet it is! The present economic climate has changed the dynamics of most relationships, there’s a lot of unpredictability in the business and work environments.
Coupled with the fact that women are increasing becoming more educated, thus taking advantage of more career opportunities, the dynamics in most homes have changed.
Furthermore, the era of clearly defined responsibilities for each party in a relationship are fast coming to an end. Most men are no longer the primary breadwinner. Sometimes, not as a result of choice or abilities but because of the opportunities available and the rising cost of living! Yes, it is indeed time to make ‘money-talk’ part of your ‘pillow-talk’. There’s a pseudo reversal of roles and in some cases, a total blurring of lines regarding the roles for each person in a relationship. These changing dynamics should be embraced and managed with healthy strategies.
We all know what happens when members of a team have no clear ideas of what constitute their roles/responsibilities: CHAOS, RESENTMENT, STRESS, BREAKDOWN OF COMMUNICATION etc. Besides, we now live in a ‘purpose-focused and empathy-driven economy’ in which more and more people are turning their passions into businesses and taking the non-traditional routes to financial independence and freedom. This often takes a toll on the financial stability of a family. Financial stress is real and must be addressed in time before it degenerates into something more serious!
Here are some general money tips for married couples:
1. Couples must seek to understand and appreciate that they each come from different backgrounds, with different ingrained perspectives of money and wealth management. However, they must willingly and consciously create a common-ground and evolve a united vision that accommodates their respective values, backgrounds, personalities and goals. Each party needs wisdom, a spirit of discernment and a deep sense humility in order to navigate the resulting mesh of cultures and perspectives;
2. As a matter of priority, women must begin to take a more proactive role in the overall financial well-being of their families. This is a role that has been traditionally reserved for only men. Now, more than ever, men seek partners in progress and not merely dependent spouses. And vice versa. Both parties must respect the fact that each person brings value to the relationship. You have something to offer, even if you are a stay-at-home mom/housewife, your ideas and insights are worth more than gold! A team of two offers better perspective than a single individual. Working together also reduces physical, mental and emotional stress and conversely, increases the couple’s ability to bond with and respect each other.
3. Couples must focus on what they want to achieve with money rather than money in itself. Establish the short and long-term goals of the family and also your individual goals. Be specific in mapping out your plans on the type of life you want to live: the home(s) to purchase, cars, children’s education, budget for caring for your loved ones (parents, siblings, family members), mechanism for giving back to society/charities, tithing, set aside funds for fun, entertainment, travel and leisure, professional and personal development/education, retirement and legacy plans (wills, estate planning, trusts) etc.
4. Set boundaries and have clarity on what are acceptable ‘money behaviours’ and what constitute unacceptable ‘deal breakers’. Hold each other accountable and establish effective consequences to guide against abuse;
5. Always act in the overall interest of your family and know when to compromise and make necessary sacrifices;
6. Family budgets: Have a personal budget and also have a family budget. Most importantly, ensure that they both align (note: your personal money goals must not be at variance with the overall family goals, if they are, seek ways to integrate them). Do not become slaves to money by working your whole lives without creating time to spend together; working for hours to pay for a mortgage without actually spending time to create wonderful memories in the home, buying gifts without giving your hearts and placing unreasonable monetary demands on each other, just to keep up with appearances! Make sure that you have a healthy balance between enjoying what money can buy for you and the glorious God-given gifts of love, laughter and life;
7. Have plans and time-lines for moving through the 3 silos of wealth: i. Financial Stability ii. Financial Independence and iii. Financial Freedom. Communicate and be clear on what each phase means to you. Hire a Financial Advisor and/or Money Coach to guide you. You do not know it all! And a third party often offers a unique and insightful perspective;
8. As soon as you get married and/or have children, it is no longer about YOU! You are now part of a team and that team is only as strong as its weakest member. There should be no room for selfishness or anything ‘self’. You must work as a team or risk total failure and misery. This is time to think about various risk management strategies: wills, estate-planning, insurance, long-term care(especially if you have kids with special needs, have a high-risk career or have a family pre-disposition to certain diseases). And hire a financial advisor, money coach or wealth consultant when necessary;
9. Your plans are not permanently carved in stone. Revisit, revise and refine them. Life happens, just don’t let it ‘happen’ to you. Be the one in the driver’s seat. Financial freedom for couples is less about ‘money’ and more about learning to communicate, to take control and have mastery of both the financial and non-financial areas of your life. It is about building good habits and becoming a ‘guru’ at matching your supply to your demand (with lots of room to indulge and have fun!)
10. As you adapt to the ever-changing economic and environmental realities, make sure that all your actions are hinged on basic universal/faith-based principles of love, respect, reciprocity and accountability. Build your financial foundation God, on the divine and universal principles. Make your plans from a place of deep faith, contentment, wisdom, abundance and authenticity! Avoid a head-space and mentality of selfishness, consumerism, ego and lack/mind-poverty. Remember, if the biggest problems in your relationships are money problems, you really do NOT have any serious problems! Celebrate your health, your family, your friends and your passions. Money is merely one of many fruits in life. It is a tool and NOT an end in itself! Focus on the seeds, on the roots and you will enjoy a joyous, purposeful life. Look around and within you, count your blessings and enjoy your relationships.
In conclusion, couples must rise to the occasion and be consciously involved in charting and implementing a joint financial plan, together. They should develop a financial blueprint, be on the same page in order to build sustainable wealth, live a fulfilling life and leave an enduring legacy behind. If you plan well together, you’ll plug your ‘leaks’ and discover that you ALREADY have more than enough.
Interested in learning more tips about navigating financial stress? Send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and sign up for WWN’s Financial Literacy Program for couples. We use Faith-based Principles of wealth, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Adlerian principles and plain old ‘common-sense’ to change your money blue-print/DNA and redefine your ‘wealth’ mindset.
Money is not just tangible, it is also an energy. Discover how to live a happy, purposeful life of abundance and not one of ‘lack’ (no matter how much you earn). Learn how to view ‘money’ as a conceptual tool and gain mastery over it!
“A family that Prays together, Plays together, Saves and Invests together, most likely stays together and happily so! Time to make ‘money-talk’ part of your ‘pillow talk’, resolve your ‘small’ money matters today before they become serious life matters tomorrow!
Love, Light & Truth!
~<3 Juliet (www.julietkego.com)
Live Powerfully, Passionately and Purposefully.
The preceding is a guest post from Juliet ‘Kego Ume-Onyido. Juliet is an avid Life Connoisseur and a passionate advocate of Leadership, WomEntrepreneurship, Investment & Financial Literacy for women and raising a new generation of Transformational, Ethical and Creative African Leaders, with a special focus on the girl-child. Follow her on Twitter: @wholewomaninc, @julietumeinc