Thursday, February 11, 2010

FPU: Relating with Money

This week Dave dives in to the difficult discussion of money and relationships.It's no secret that men and woman think differently about things (including money), but it goes much deeper than that. Dave highlights two opposing personalities when it comes to money - the nerd and the free spirit. The nerd is the one that tends to do things by the book, while the free spirit kind of takes things as they come. When it comes to managing the money, it's quite possible that neither really have a good grip on getting it right. In fact, starting this process often highlights which role each member of the couple really owns (and, yes, usually there is one of each in each couple). The one that gets all giddy right out of the gate and starts creating spreadsheets... yep, that's the nerd. The person who just wants it done at the end of the day is the free spirit.

My little nerd and free spirit in the making

With such opposing forces, it's no surprise that money fights are the #1 thing that causes strife in a marriage. Dave says it's also the #1 opportunity. If you set a couple ground rules right from the beginning and open the lines of communication, you can turn this in to a great chance to build your relationship. So, here are the ground rules for your first budget committee meeting:

The Nerd:
* Make a draft budget. Bring it to the table. And shut up!
* This is a meeting, not a summit. Keep it brief.
* Insist that the free spirit makes some changes. Let them mess it up! YIKES!

The Free Spirit:
* You must come to the meeting.
* Bring your brain and use it to give input.
* You may never say, "What ever you want to do, honey."

It's very important that both people have a vote in the budget committee decisions. If you follow these simple steps and learn to work together on the budget, you will quickly see the power of this system. When you agree on spending, you agree on a value system. When you work together on your budget, you're working together to define your goals, fears, and dreams. Having a plan creates accountability and provides a basis for self control. Working together to create a budget gives you that plan and can be quite empowering. No wonder Dave sees this as such a great opportunity for marriages.

Being accountable is important, so if you are single be sure you find some one to act ask that accountability partner. Find some one who will call you out when you are being dumb with your money. They don't have to agree with you on every thing, but you need to give them a chance to voice their opinion and listen to what they are saying.

I can personally testify that this process has significantly improved my marriage. We may not always agree on every thing, but our communication has improved tremendously. It's openned us up to important discussions we weren't having. It also helps get past the blame game. It's hard to argue with reality when it's written in a budget in black and white. I'll admit that I may have started as the free spirit (mostly because I wasn't buying in to it) and have quickly become the nerd. Tim describes me as a nerd with free spirit tendencies. You might also classify me as a recovering free spirit. While I once used retail therapy to deal with issues just assuming we'd find the money some where, I now have a multi-paged Excel spreadsheet that tracks our monthly budget, daily transactions, sinking funds, and even our wish list. It's quite amusing actually. So, which category do you fit in?

Next week: Kids and money (we have no class next week because of Ash Wednesday, so I'm breaking this week's lesson in to two parts. Both are important and deserve their own space.)


Trish said...

I imagine Jon would disagree, but I think that I am more of a relaxed nerd and he's an uptight free-spirit. He likes the idea of structure (more than I do, actually), but I'm usually the one holding it together. :)

Kara said...

If you would have ever told me that in our marriage *I* would be the NERD with money and Chris would be the freespirit I would have laughed .... and laughed ... (I think Chris might have laughed, too) :-D

And, yet, here I am - spreadsheets in hand and toting around my envelopes, too - LOVE IT!


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