Marriage changes a lot of things – and it can have a significant impact on how you deal with your finances. Marriage can contribute to your financial empowerment too, but not many of us are taught about how we can actually do this successfully and easily.
Before I married my second husband, I was a single mom of young twin-girls, and I was doing great in my career and finances. In fact, I was a Vice President of Programs & Services working with Fortune 100 companies and top government agencies, owned a penthouse condominium, had no debt, and my salary was twice as much money as my husband-to-be.
Shortly before we got married, my father passed away and so much changed in my career and life priorities. One of those changes, once I got married, was to leave the technology sector and my lucrative executive job to work as a Senior Vice President at a not-for-profit organization taking a 40 percent pay cut in my salary.
It took me some time to realize that in addition to a reduced pay in my career, I had also given up some part of my financial empowerment when I got married. The irony was that although I was the “CFO and COO” of the family by managing the household, paying the expenses, taking care of the children and our home renovation projects, something had gone off-kilter with my capacity to generate more money for me. My husband, however, was continuously increasing his income.
I sometimes joke that I am the executive that finally got her “groove back.” I love business and creating money, it took a few years to realize I had (somewhat unconsciously) decided that being married meant changing my priorities to make sure my husband was the leader of the family; empowering his business to make sure he was the main breadwinner. My husband isn’t the kind of man who would ever need or expect that in our relationship, so I knew that I had to change things and enjoy being married and financially empowered.
"There is nothing wrong with changing your priorities and taking on different financial roles in a marriage – in fact, you and your spouse can create more financially together than you ever did as individuals."
It all started with me challenging some of my hidden ideas about money and marriage, and taking pragmatic steps to consciously increase my financial possibilities.
No matter your current financial situation or relationship status, you can expand your financial possibilities both as an individual and within a partnership or marriage – and here are five essential keys to help you get started:
1. Examine your points of view about money and relationships – and prioritize your financial prosperity
There is nothing wrong with changing your priorities and taking on different financial roles in a marriage – in fact, you and your spouse can create more financially together than you ever did as individuals.
Part of getting my financial groove back was examining more closely the points of view I had let subconsciously run the show in my marriage – and honestly asking myself whether those points of view were true for me, or could I change them and allow something different to be created.
Are there places in your life where you have let other people’s points of view about your relationship or marriage limit or stop you exploring your capacities with money? Have you prioritized care of your spouse, family and house, and assumed that you cannot easily have the generation of money as a priority as well?
Even for unmarried women, it is common to prioritize money less and to focus more on the creative and contributive aspects of their business or career. Women can let themselves get stuck in a polarized idea that there is an either/or universe when it comes to care-taking and money-making, and decide they have to or should drop financial priorities when they get married or have a family – when this isn’t the case at all!
You don’t have to give up on your financial priorities and desires. It can be as simple as proactively putting the priority for your financial prosperity back on the table, and then taking some simple actions.
2. Know your expenses and income – to the dollar!
The first part of empowering yourself financially within a marriage is knowing exactly what money is coming in and going out. This clarity is essential because, without it, you won’t know where you are or what to aim for next.
Take time to sit down and write down all your monthly personal and business income and expenses, or get a copy of your profit and loss statement from your accountant.
Give as much attention to knowing the income as the expenses – you need to be aware of both so that you don’t form an untrue picture of what is happening in your financial world.
People often pay more attention to expenses as they see the money being spent, while not really looking at what they are bringing in. A lot of people are surprised at how much money they are actually generating each month, especially if they are running their own businesses. You may already be creating more money than you think!
3. Have financially empowering conversations with yourself and your partner
Money is one of the main sources of argument in relationships. Many couples do not talk about money unless it is around big events like a holiday or buying a house or car, and few couples have the right tools to have proactive conversations about creating with finances in a way that is generative and even fun.
Make time to have a ‘money date’ on a weekly or at least monthly basis to talk about different possibilities with your finances. Have this conversation both with your partner and with yourself.
Ask questions that get you to explore possibilities and new choices for generating money:
- Where are we now? Where would we like to be in 5, 10, 20 years from now?
- What do we desire to add to our lives?
- What other ways can we bring in income we haven’t considered yet?
- What ways could we educate and invest in our future with our money we haven’t considered?
Avoid conversations that are just about budgeting and cost-cutting. There may be expenses that you realize are not contributing to your lives and choose to let them go or reduce them. But keep your attention forward-focussed and generative in outlook, and you will be more likely to take expansive steps towards financial empowerment.
"Give as much attention to knowing the income as the expenses – you need to be aware of both so that you don’t form an untrue picture of what is happening in your financial world."
4. Educate yourselves and each other about money – and enjoy it!
Educating yourself about money can take many forms. You can research the history of money to get an insight into how it works (The Ascent of Money series by the BBC is a great start) and you can also educate yourself on different ways you can invest your money to make it grow.
Prior to our wedding, I educated my husband about diamonds. I taught him about the way diamonds are graded and we selected each diamond on my engagement ring ourselves. In the end, I had a ring that was not only beautiful to me aesthetically, but we had invested in something that will continue to increase in value.
I still buy jewelry as it is one of my favorite ways to invest my money. My husband jokes that I make investments that I can wear, but it works for me and makes me money. That said, I also have a diverse portfolio of stocks, cryptocurrency, and real estate.
Learn about items of value, or ways of using your money to make more money – and let curiosity and enjoyment be your guide!
5. Be the CFO of your life and your marriage
If you were the CFO of your life and in your relationship, what would you choose differently than you are now?
Everyone has different interests and capacities with money and finances – and all of us have an untapped capacity for creating more money and changing our financial worlds. Ultimately, it’s time to explore what works for you in your life and relationship – because it truly is different for everyone.
Continually explore your options and ask more questions to empower you financially in your relationship: Are you using your natural capacities to financially empower you and your marriage? What roles could you each take, and what else could you bring to the table? What are your strengths? What are your partner’s strengths? Where do you both require input, assistance, or more information?
There is no right or wrong way to become financially empowered in your marriage. Just as every couple is unique and every individual is unique, the way you create your financial world independently and together will be different too.
If you are willing to gain clarity on your finances, educate yourself, ask some different questions and have some different conversations about money - and let your curiosity and enjoyment guide you, you will begin to discover what is truly possible in your financial world.
It isn't always easy to stay on top of your finances, especially when you have developed unhealthy spending habits over the years. However, as you begin to realize the many benefits of having healthy finances, it can become something you want to make a conscious effort to improve. When your finances are in a good place, you often have access to better opportunities whether it be a mortgage loan, greater credit line or business loan. On that note, here is how you can become an expert at managing your finances in case you need a few tips.
Learn to Use Technology
The good thing about managing finances in the technological age is that you don't have to do it alone. There are so many apps available that will help you pay bills on time and track your expenses. For instance, some apps force you to live within your actual income and tell you what to do when you need to balance your budget.
If you need an app that will help you get better at saving, then some will set aside your spare change for you. Also, don't be afraid to use more simple tools such as your smartphone calendar to set reminders about payments if you don't automate them.
Seek Legal Advice
Sometimes, being an expert at something means understanding that you can't possibly know it all. This is why you have professionals around you that can help fill in the gaps where you're lacking. Consider hiring a legal firm to help with any challenges that are beyond you. Lexington Law is a good firm as they could help remove negative items from your credit report. Read this Lexington Law Review (Our #1 Credit Repair Service of 2019) to find out more about how they could help improve your finances.
You can't do better than what you know when it comes to managing finances. You should, therefore, invest your time in learning more about finances and how to manage them. Think about what your goals for your finances are and what knowledge gaps you need to fill.
For example, if you want to invest in the stock market so that you can improve your net worth, then you may need to learn more about investing to do so successfully. To boost your knowledge, try reading articles on credible blogs that share finance information from professionals. Also, be weary of content from finance-driven companies as it could be biased.
Work on Growing Your Income
As a self-proclaimed finance guru, you know that the more sources of income that you have, the better. Work on increasing your streams of income so that you have more money to meet your targets whether it's to save for a property or put larger sums towards retirement. One way to do so would be by getting extra income by doing social media marketing for businesses or creating tutorials on YouTube. If you own a property, renting out rooms is a great way to make passive income.
Live Within Your Means
It can be difficult to live within your means when you live in a society that is always presenting you with things to buy. However, being more conscious about the things that you purchase could help you realize that most are wants rather than needs. To live within your means, always take time to think about a purchase as opposed to impulse spending. You should always get good at bargain hunting as many times you can find items of similar quality at a cheaper price.
Learn How to Manage Debt
Debt doesn't have to be a bad thing if you understand how it works and how to manage it. It can be a tool for credit building when you understand the fundamentals. For instance, if you take out a loan or credit card, always be mindful of your interest rates.
By paying the amount of money you borrowed back in full before the due date, you won't have to pay interest on what you borrowed. If you can't pay back in full, paying more than the minimum payment will ensure you incur less interest. For the most part, the secret to good debt management is never spending more than you can afford to pay back.
Managing finances is a life skill that can help improve your quality of life. By following the mentioned tips and taking your finances more seriously, you're more likely to master the art of healthy finances.