Our Life-Giving, Money-Management Habits for Marriage

Here it is.

The nitty-gritty, nakedness of how we try to be wise with money day-to-day.

This wraps up a 3-part series on how sharing finances makes our marriage stronger.

If you missed the first two, catch up with; How Sharing a Bank Account Makes Your Marriage Stronger and How to Enjoy Budgeting.

Why does money management even matter in your marriage?  

Because it’s one of the top 10 reasons why couples get divorced, according to Huffington Post last fall.  You could almost conclude that half of those reasons could revolve around finances!  Lack of shared vision, unmet expectations, poor conflict resolution, different priorities.

Divorce is heartbreaking (we speak from experience here, as many of you can), but when you look at the main reasons for it – some reasons are avoidable with a little bit of self-awareness and intentionality. No one intends to get divorced.

Now, we’re hardly 3 years deep in our marriage, so talk to us 10 years from now and we’ll have some different learning I’m sure.

But, here’s how we’re trying to be intentional. Here’s how we’re trying to be self-aware.

*disclaimer* Our systems aren’t perfect. And we’re NOT experts on this. We’re just an average couple trying to navigate finances well as we start out.  And we find the more we talk about money, the more we learn about money!

So… you with us?  Let’s bust up this taboo subject.

Here’s how money shakes down in our day to day life.

After all, how you spend your day is how you spend your life. -Annie Dillard.

One minute, one dollar at a time.

Once we decide budgeting is important, get it on the calendar, get some tools to help and make it fun – here’s how our budgeting time looks.

Here are the Life-Giving Money-Management Habits we’ve discovered:

  1. Ask big-picture questions every year to align your dreams & goals:

    • What do we hope life will look like during retirement?
    • What do we hope life will look like 10 years from now?
    • What do we hope life will look like 3-5 years from now?
    • What do we hope life will look like next year?  This year?Yes, plans can change.  We hold our hopes and dreams loosely, with prayer and thankfulness.  Because we don’t know what the future holds and we don’t know what God has in store for us.  But we don’t want to ignore it either.If God gives us hopes and dreams for the future of our family, career, community, etc – we will be intentional about them.
  2. Automate the important stuff.  We determine how much we can give & save, then make it happen automatically… because we believe they’re that important.  Things like:

    • Giving to organizations you’re passionate about.  Not passionate about any?  Start giving do one you like – your heart will likely follow. (Jesus said it, not me!)
    • Saving for retirement and education. We did some research on the best options for us based on our income and goals.
    • Long-term savings for our 3-5 year goals.  New car?  New roof?  Planning to move?  Praying for a baby? Destination vacation?
    • Mortgage, property taxes and other utilities that are fixed costs.
  3. List and save for Known Upcoming Expenses in the next year. For us, that’s things like

    • oil changes, license plate stickers
    • home maintenance, septic service, generator service, spring gardening. 🙂
    • weddings, birthday’s, Christmas!
    • annual vacation
    • home rennovations
    • personal goals – computer for a home office,NOTE: This can be a really tough one.  We always have more goals than we do resources once we make a list.  But we start with what we want to give and save first. Then we live off the rest.  This one takes time, and we usually create a side list of “nice to do” things that we might do if we make a little surprise income.
  4. Negotiate and agree on soft costs

    • How much discretionary money will we each have?*
    • How often will we eat out?
    • How much do groceries cost – could the be more? Less?
    • Do we need gym memberships?  Different cell phone bills?*what works for us is each having our own “spending money” to use however we’d like.  No questions asked.  If Justin wants to buy lego, or I want a manicure, that’s that. 😉  It’s for fun.
  5. Evaluate regularly

    • A budget only works if we use it. Evaluating how we’re doing month to month is really important for staying on track.
    • When we get farthest off-track is when we’ve stopped evaluating how we’re doing.
    • Our favourite tool to evaluating our monthly progress is Mint.com.  Free.  Easy.  And no one is paying us to tell you that 😉

What about you?  What money habits have been awesome in your marriage?

We definitely admit that sometimes we get it wrong, but the most important thing is we’re always striving to be on the same page.

What works for you?  Let’s make money less taboo.  We’d love to learn from you!




Sarah according to Justin – brings a kindness, compassion and empathy to every conversation she finds herself in. She has a remarkable gift for reaching out and leaving others better than when she met them. She’s also a devoted, patient, and loving wife and mother with a passion for seeing God’s love realized in this world.