“Money makes the world go ‘round” may be a great song title, but all it seems to do in your household is make things come to a screeching halt.
Let’s say it’s the holidays, and you can’t believe you and your wife/girlfriend/husband/boyfriend are fighting about money-again. She goes out and buys a ridiculous set of unbelievably expensive ornaments for the tree, which thank-you-very-much will only be seen for two weeks out of the entire year, and then she has a fit when she finds out you bought a remote control that allows you to coordinate the VCR, TV, and half a dozen household appliances, which is a darn sight more practical than her ornaments. So, what’s the fuss?
It seems the two of you are forever spending on stuff that seems perfectly legitimate to each of you, yet you keep fighting over it. The upshot is you’re getting deeper and deeper in debt, your credit cards are maxed out, and your paychecks seem to be getting smaller by the week.
But the worst of it is the distance the fights create between the two of you. You used to be so close. And now all you seem to do is fight about money, which is pushing you further and further apart. What’s happening? Does money kill off all relationships? Can a relationship survive only if you’re wealthy? Is your relationship doomed? You’re in agony.
Your concern is certainly legitimate. Money fights do cause serious trouble in relationships, yet money can also be the very thing that makes a relationship stronger.
“Huh?!” you say, in shock. Have I not heard a word you’ve said? “Maybe a ton of money can make a relationship stronger, but certainly not the lack of it,” you tell me.
Actually, it isn’t the abundance, or the lack, of money that creates distance in a couple. It’s how the couple views money and how they deal with it. Money can actually bring a couple closer and can restore a sense of togetherness.
“How?” you ask me, disbelieving.
By transforming money issues into a goal you choose for yourselves as a couple, you support, encourage, and empower each other to achieve.
Start by dreaming together
Ask each other, “What would we like to create as a money goal for ourselves?” Maybe you’d like to save up for a down payment rather than rent for the rest of your lives. Maybe you’d like to take a real vacation together in some foreign land where you can’t even read the street signs. Or, maybe you’d like to start a small mail order business together. Whatever your dream, explore and then decide on a dream you would like to achieve together as a couple.
Be sure to attach a date to when you’d like to have that dream. “Someday” doesn’t qualify. Be willing to risk picking a date even if you end up changing it down the line.
Creating budgets for yourselves make sense. Do your homework and figure out how much your dream will cost, and then work backwards: In order to save X$ in the next year, we can only spend Y$ on everything else.
From there, budget your household and personal expenses. Open a special account (or piggy bank) for your together-dream, so your savings are in a special place you can’t get at too easily.
[Some ways to save on expenses include going with a MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) provider for your cell phone (like, Tello or Ting Mobile), and dropping cable for streaming services (like Netflix)].
Support and empower each other to getting your dream
Cut out magazine pictures that remind you of your dream and put them up on the refrigerator door. Have mini-celebrations together that celebrate getting that first $100 saved, the first $1,000 saved and so on. Spend some time together dreaming about your dream, getting ready for when it really happens, and so forth.
Have a new dream ready as soon as you get close to achieving the first dream
Dreams build upon each other. Nurture and grow the closeness you will have created between each other in achieving your first dream by creating your next together-dream.
Money is a means to an end. Nothing more, nothing less. You can use it to be a joyous means to a wonderful end, or you can abdicate your responsibility to money, and let it run you (and your couplehood) right into the ground. The choice is yours.
Noelle Nelson motivates, inspires and gives us the practical skills to achieve success, happiness, and the development of our “best” selves. Visit www.dr.noellenelson.com for more information.
This article was first published in our September 2006 issue.