Wedding planning and budgeting can sometimes highlight differences in the way we work with money and our expectations as an individual about how money is handled. A lot of couples admit that they have the same ‘money argument’ over and over again and this is understandable as we all have different money stories (the foundation of where we learned about money and how to save it…and spend it).
On this episode of Bridechilla I am joined by Dan Hinz from https://www.adultingwithmoney.com.
Dan is financial coach and helps engaged couples and newlyweds chill out when it comes to money. He teaches them to focus on honest communication and what’s actually important to each of them. We talk about counselling and getting on the same page and working as a team when it comes to creating your new money story as a couple. A worthy listen for all...even if you think you've got all this financial stuff in check and be sure to read Dan's post below
Before reaching out to me, Ethan and Reshanda (not their real names) were newlyweds living harmoniously in the Midwest. Among the snowstorms, brunches with friends, and fun vacations, the happy couple were also advancing in their careers. But something changed.
For Reshanda to advance in her career, she needed to get a master’s degree. Ethan had a pricey hobby, and they both wanted to stop living the apartment life.
There wasn’t enough money to go around for all these goals, so they started talking about what they should do. And they talked. And talked. And never made a decision.
Now, Ethan and Reshanda aren’t a couple that argues much. The discussions weren’t knock-down-drag-out fights, but they weren’t getting anywhere, either.
Until they found me, and I taught them how to set off in the right direction.
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It’s no secret that a happy marriage is about communication. Being open and honest with each other is going to solve most of your issues, and it’s no different with money.
When working with a couple, the first conversation I have with them is about what you want to do with your money.
What are your hopes?
What are your dreams?
What’s at the top of your wishlist?
From that one conversation, you learn more about each other, and I start to see what gets you excited.
I also like to talk about how you feel about money.
How did your family handle money?
Is there someone in your life that is a positive example of handling money?
Who do you know that isn’t so great at handling money?
What are your biggest concerns about money?
One thing I don’t do is dig deep into your past. We’ve all made mistakes. What you’ve done in the past and who you are at this exact moment shouldn’t define who you become.
Before my wife and I started talking about money, I needed some new suits for my first career as a financial advisor. Joseph A. Bank was having one of their, “Buy 1, Get 462 Things Free!!” sales. I spent at least $2,000 on suits, shirts, and ties.
I’m not sure my wife knows I spent that much. When I think about telling her, it makes my stomach churn. It would be uncomfortable to talk to her about this, but I also know she loves me. The discussion would be hard, but it’s not going to ruin our marriage.
If there’s something you need to get off your chest with your partner, I help make it a safe space to do so.
I also make it clear that it’s essential to move forward. I want nothing more than to make you and your partner a happy and strong couple.
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Once we discuss your hopes, dreams, and fears around money, then it’s time to start making a plan. A lot of couples struggle with how to work together with their money.
Should we have separate bank accounts or have everything joint?
What app should we use?
How much should each of our “allowances” be?
What the fuck is a checkbook?
When couples start learning how to budget, there are specific steps we work through, but it’s okay if you decide to do things differently. In fact, as long as you and your partner are working together as a team, I’m a happy coach!
I’ve found that working together on your budget is like trying to craft a great joke. Trying out a new joke for the first time sucks. There’s a nugget of truth and humor in it, but no one falls over laughing the first time around. But the more you work on it, the better it gets.
For example, in the seventh episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, we get to watch the titular character, Miriam, craft one of her jokes. (Note: If you haven’t seen the show, it takes place in the 1950’s.)
The setup of the joke is: “This morning, I witnessed the aftermath of my parents’ sex night. I caught them pulling the twin beds back apart. Now, I heard that scraping noise in the middle of the night as a kid….”
And here is what we get to see next:
First punchline: “...and I was scared to death that it was a ghost. So...thanks for the memories, Mom and Dad.”
Second try: “....I always thought it was a ghost, but now I know it was something much scarier...my parents’ sex life. Thanks, Mom and Dad.”
Winner: “....but now I know it was something much scarier than a ghost...it was my parents’ sex life. No, really! For years I would embarrass myself at Halloween because the other kids would be making ghost noises like, “wooooooo, woooooo,” and I’d be going, “[sexy voice] ooohhh, ooohhh.”
Crafting the perfect budget for you takes time and practice. I tell all my couples that it takes at least three months to learn how to work together. If you quit before that, you won’t give yourself enough time to work out the kinks.
Photo by Tanja Heffner
When it comes to combining money, newlyweds are trying to learn three things at the same time:
How to budget.
How to use a new budgeting app.
How to be a married couple.
When starting out, it’s hard to know what to fix when something goes wrong. For example, let’s say you try to stick to a budget but end up spending $500 more than you planned.
Is the app double-counting something?
Did your partner go on a spending spree and not tell you?
Or are you just bad at budgeting and should quit now and never try again?
Stay calm and budget on.
With so many questions and so few answers, it’s no wonder that fighting over money is one of the leading causes of divorce. But that’s where having a coach can help out.
When you ask a question, a coach gets you an answer. Most of the time, the problem is easy to fix. But when your attention is pulled in different directions, the answer can be hiding in plain sight. It’s like when someone rests their sunglasses on their head and then says, “Hold on, I can’t find my sunglasses.”
It’s also important to never feel bad for asking me--or any other coach--a question. When a couple has a problem that’s been bugging them for days, it feels wonderful to help! Solving problems is as addicting to us coaches as laughter is to a comedian.
Having a financial coach can help keep you focused on what’s important. IMO, spending an hour to make sure your budget is balanced isn’t worth the effort if you don’t have any goals. Why skip the Oreos if you’re not on a diet? Let’s figure out what you want to fight for, then learn how to win.
At this point, I would like to say that hiring a financial coach isn’t for everyone. As Jerry Seinfeld has said,
If you’re a couple that can’t decide what to have for dinner without fighting...your problem isn’t about money.
It isn’t wise to use a new way to manage money or budgeting to try and fix deep-rooted issues. Instead, seek out the relationship experts that Aleisha has on other Bridechilla episodes.
Photo by Pablo Heimplatz
After working with me, Ethan and Reshanda learned a few things.
First, I asked Reshanda how much her master’s degree would cost. After asking around, Reshanda found that it’s common in her industry for a company to pay for a master’s degree. With that, her choice to move forward in her career became crystal clear. It was a “Hell, yes!”
Second, Ethan decided to give up his expensive hobby. After the lovebirds sat and talked, he saw how much the master’s degree meant to his wife, and Ethan was just as tired of apartment living. By focusing on saving for the down payment on a house, the couple found a common goal to fight for.
Finally, the only significant change the couple made was to budget together. Ethan and Reshanda had both been budgeting separately, so I taught them how to use one budgeting app together. They also plan to combine their bank accounts one day, but it’s not at the top of their priority list.
If you’re ready to get on the same page with your partner, be sure to grab a FREE copy of my 20,000+ word guide, How to Talk About Money with Your Spouse: The Ultimate Guide, and you can get started right now!
Dan Hinz, MBA, is a financial coach who helps engaged couples and newlyweds stop money fights before they start.
A graduate of Iowa State University with a master’s degree in business administration with a focus on finance, he authored the ebook, How to Talk About Money with Your Spouse: The Ultimate Guide, a 20,000+ word guide that teaches couples how to be on the same page with money.
Dan has also been an adjunct professor in finance for Florida State University-Panama City and Gulf Coast State College. He lives in Panama City Beach, Florida with his wife.
Show image by Joshua Ness