The Politics of Money – at Home

Our house is 16 years old and this week we were faced with issues of replacement of some of the original HVAC equipment in the house.  Our AC was dying and expensive to repair, the furnace might have been OK for a few more years, but we didn’t like the idea of putting a new air conditioner in an old furnace.  The water heater was OK, but could fail at any time and we wanted to avoid replacing it in an emergency situation, possibly accompanied by flooding.  We were also encouraged to move now, while our gas company is offering a rebate.  After multiple discussions over several months we decided to replace all three.

As the equipment was being installed, we had a brief discussion about how easy it was to come to agreement on this decision and how little tension it caused in our relationship.  It wasn’t always this easy, but years of discussions and conversations about money have helped us each to understand better how the other thinks and and that allows us to be more relaxed, even when we don’t agree on the action to take.  It allows us to share openly what we would prefer to do and why and keeps us open to compromise.

Today we decided to share with you part of the chapter in our book about struggling with finances. At the end of each chapter we offer some helpful hints.  The following are from the chapter called:  Facing the Challenges of Money.

Hints, Tips and Things We Learned Along the Way

  • While one person may be better at paying the bills and keeping records, both spouses need to be included when setting priorities and in financial planning.
  • Formal budgets work very well for some people.  While we have never been very successful at making and keeping a formal budget, one of our sons and his wife keep a very detailed budget and follow it closely.  For them it works very well.
  • Save some money.  Emergencies arise and eventually we all hope to retire.  Having some money on hand can make both situations easier.
  • Learn to distinguish between needs and wants.  Needs require priority, wants can be deferred.  Some couples find this very difficult when providing financially for their children.
  • Money can become a control issue in a relationship.  The controller may be the person who handles the mechanics or the one who shows no interest and accepts no responsibility.
  • Give some money away.  You need to try this to experience its value.  Have a discussion and pick an amount that you will give to others each month or each year.
  • Managing finances will always be part of your relationship.  Don’t try to solve all the issues in a short period of time.  The discussions in this area need to be handled on a regular basis.  Most of the discussions need to be done multiple times as situations present themselves.
  • It can’t be serious all the time. It is okay to occasionally spend some money frivolously and not worry about it.
  • Learn to laugh about failures along the way.
  • If you need professional help in this area, seek it out.

At the end of each chapter we also include some questions to stimulate and focus discussion on the subject of the chapter:  Facing the Challenges of Money.  These are all questions we have used in our discussions about money and we found them useful.  We suggest that you work through them over a period of time, in several sessions.

Questions to Help Guide Your Discussion

It is good to share your feels as well as thoughts and opinions as you respond to the questions.

1. A series of questions to use over a period of time:
a. What do I like most about the way I manage money?
b. What do I like least about the way I manage money?
c. What do I like most about the way you manage money?
d. What do I like least about the way you manage money?
e. What do I think we need to do individually and as a couple to better manage our finances?

2. Another set of questions to use over a period of time:
a. What did I learn from my mother about managing money?
b. What did I learn from my father about managing money?
c. How do I see my responses to the above affecting how I handle money?

3. Do we work together to set financial priorities?  Do we need to improve?  How?

4. Am I comfortable with the charitable contributions we make?

5. Do we ever spend money to enhance our marriage?

6. How does providing for our children’s wants rather than needs affect the way we manage our money?

7. If we could spend some money (amount depending on financial circumstances), what would I like to do?

We hope you find these suggestions and questions helpful.  Let us know how it goes.

 

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Today’s scripture readings, reflection and prayer:

Living Together in the Word

Bob & Rita’s book:  Forever and Day:  An Invitation to Create a Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com or by contacting us.  Also available for Kindle and Nook. Make a retreat with your spouse, at home, on your time.  Readings, relationship tips, questions for discussion.

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About Rita & Bob Boeke

Rita Boeke has experience teaching scripture and with her husband Bob has experience in enriching marriages through workshops and retreats. They post a weekly blog at thewonderofmarriage.com and co-authored Forever and a Day: An Invitation to Create a Marriage that Lasts a Lifetime.
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