Soon after Derek proposed to Carrie, he got a bit of a surprise. He found out her house was headed into foreclosure. They still got married and faced the financial disaster together because, as they put it: “We had no choice. The bank wasn’t taking excuses in lieu of mortgage payments.”
The conversations and decisions that Derek and Carrie had to make early in their marriage were tough, but they helped them to understand how each of them grew up, what they valued, and helped them get on the same financial page.
I ran across their short book, One Bed, One Bank Account, in the library a few months ago. And I wanted to share two of their tips for merging money, because a lot of people will be getting engaged/hitched over the next few months.
The $100,000 Question
If I suddenly came into a 100,000 dollars, here’s what I would do with it:
- I’d give $10,000 to church.
- I’d spend $10,000 on a family vacation.
- I’d save $20,000.
- And, I’d put the remaining $60,000 toward paying off our house early.
My husband said he’d do almost the same thing: pay off the house, save for our children’s college and invest in our business. (Lord knows, we’ve had many difficult conversations surrounding money…it’s a gift to be on the same page now.)
But what if he wanted to spend $100,000 on a new Tesla?
Chile, we’d have problems!!
Derek and Carrie Olsen say that asking this simple question is a great way to begin having money talks, because it is a fun non-confrontational way to share what each of you value.
One at a Time, Please, One at a Time
When my husband and I had our first budget meeting. It lasted six hours. It was awful.
I cut my him off before he could finish a thought. I questioned how he designed the spreadsheet, why he had a line for tithes and offerings, why didn’t we have a line for new clothing and anything else I could say/do to stay in control.
This was no bueno.
In their book, Derek and Carrie give several guidelines for budget meetings/money talks. But I think the most helpful tip that gave was one for making sure only one spouse talks at a time. And that the other spouse is an attentive listener. They recommend using a coffee cup, brush or anything else to help identify the speaker.
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The Point of It All
Many studies point to money problems being the number one cause for divorce. But it’s not really the money that causes the problems. It’s the communication about money that leads to our relationships either thriving or dying.
As a result of overcoming the financial disaster early in their marriage and growing toward each other, Derek and Carrie have dedicated their lives to helping couples have better conversations on money.
And that’s the point of it all: when couples understand each other’s motivations, backgrounds and hopes for money…they can both win. Because learning to communicate about money breaks down barriers. It forces us to trust each other and teaches us how to resolve conflicts.
BMWK: What tips can you share for having open and honest communication about money?