We did not agree on money at all! In fact, he lovingly called me a professional "tightwad."
We have been married forever, it seems. Since we were college sweethearts, we have been best friends and yet we didn't always agree about money. I'm a saver and he's not. When we got married, we knew that we did not have the skills we needed to handle money as both our extremes could become unhealthy. Plus, we had never seen "money" done right. Between our two sets of parents (and step-parents), there are 8 separate legal divorces. Most involved horrific legal battles over money.
That's a typical American story.
Growing up in that environment, we both knew what we did NOT want in terms of fighting over money, but we had no clue on how to communicate about the topic of finances. We knew it was a powerful tool, for good or for evil, but we did not know how to use it. Perhaps you know that tension that sucks the air right out of the room at even the word "budget." Shame and blame never start off the conversation well. We knew that we simply could not afford to repeat the mistakes of the past. We were desperate to change the "money-stories" from our childhoods.
Along our journey, I left my corporate job when one of our children had medical complications. We had no plan, no money, and a house full of very useful junk. Through many hard nights and days, we had to learn to plan, create income, and we donated over 550+ bags to charity to become personally debt-free. We had to write a whole new story and learn new skills at the same time.
From those hard years, I offer a few ideas to come into unity in minimalism and money:
1. Respect the other person in the relationship (I'm speaking of adults. Kids are another topic!) Understand that they come from a different (not always wrong) perspective in terms of material items and money.
2. Work on your realm of influence first and make room for their stuff. Work to make their life easier without saying a word.
3. Don't say a word. Let the open spaces and ease of walking in the door speak volumes.
In terms of coming into unity in the finances, that can be an area where discussion is just necessary. You are going to need to use words! However, the words need to be filled with forgiveness, letting go of the past, and filled with hope and ideas for the future. Here are a few tips from my work as a financial coach over the years.
1. Schedule a time when you both are not tired, hungry, or stressed. I love the words of wisdom of author Drenda Keesee as she teaches to not confront hard topics when you are:
and it spells HALT. God knows I needed this advice, sometimes daily!
This is vital in setting the stage for true growth and unity in money. You can read more of her incredible teaching at www.drenda.com.
2. Use accurate tracking so that you have hard data to discuss. I recommend Google Sheets for tracking because it's free, user-friendly, easily customized, and can be on each partner's smart phones.
3. Set a goal and reward for making small steps in the right direction. In paying down debt or building income, it can be a long process. It's just like running a marathon, you need to set small rewards to help mark your progress. I recommend the rewards be meaningful but not costly. For example, one client set the reward of a favorite dessert and date-night in when they created their first budget. That's a correct "size" reward. A trip around the world would not be correlative to creating a first budget. (I've had both of those happen in real life with my clients, which is why I want to make a clear distinction!)
Finally, the number one game-changer when we did not agree on money (and on minimalism) was to find a coach to work with us. Having another couple to sit down and go over our finances was literally priceless! They looked at our numbers, talked through strategy, and could see areas we needed to grow in the ways we both looked at money.
Obviously, coming into unity on both minimalism and money is going to take time, patience, love, and understanding. The healing that comes is worthy of the effort in learning to speak peacefully and with an open heart to those you love.
Blessings for your journey,