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And by keeping it real I mean REAL SIMPLE. I AM NO FINANCE EXPERT! I’m actually pretty terrible with money and most of you would be appalled by my Amazon Prime history. It’s a little embarrassing. I’m not going to give you advice on how to run your finances, because I think those are private choices that vary on circumstances and family preference. The point I’d like to really make here is how important it is that BOTH partners know how money comes in and BOTH partners know where is goes. (Amazon. It goes to Amazon.)

Business, finances, taxes and blah de blah blah blah are so dizzying for me that I get a headache just thinking about it. When Adam and I first got married we never really had any conversations about how we would blend our monies. In fact, he made a VERY bold decision early on in our engagement. He cashed out his 401K to buy out his partners and I was so clueless that I didn’t even think about how it could effect me. Going forward he just handled everything. I didn’t even get put on the bank account. We had our own accounts. He paid for his stuff. I paid for mine.

Side note about Adam to preface this story: Adam is a brilliant guy with an uncanny view of the world. However, he is terrible, TERRIBLE with details. He is a big picture guy. As the company started to grow and his time was eaten up, more and more things fell through the cracks. One time when he was out of the country the water to our house got shut off. He just didn’t pay the bill. Needless to say I was pretty miffed since I was stuck at home with an infant, no water, and no help. I had to struggling to even find the account number so I could pay it myself. I railed at him every time something like this would happen, blaming him for his irresponsibility. He asked me if I’d be interested in taking some stuff off his plate, but I refused because I was so bad with numbers and felt so ill equipped. He never fought me on it, probably because he felt so responsible. But by refusing to help I put myself in the dark. Accidentally, on purpose, we’d fallen into unspoken roles and his was to make money and pay bills. This was not a fair arrangement.

I became more concerned with the state of things as they got more out of control. I could tell that things were bad, but I didn’t even know how we got paid. I couldn’t just step in and take over. After going to counseling for awhile, Adam finally let me in on how overwhelmed he felt with work and home life and how he really needed some organizational help in the bill department. Now, I can’t math, but I can organize. Get this girl a binder and some color coded dividers and we’re in business! So the first thing I did was to take over as mail lady and organize the paper trail. As everything in the world became automated, I started managing the accounts as well. And I didn’t have to math!

The addition of the Family Business Meeting gave us the chance to make sure we were always on the same page and eventually some of the pressure lifted. Adam actually whiteboarded out how we got money, and from where, in his complicated scheme. I still can’t tell you exactly how it all works, but I get the gist. We were able to get our heads back above water and make progress on debt and reset our priorities. Having some knowledge of the finances also gave me some say on big monetary moves.

Now, Adam manages the bigger picture and makes long, boring excel spreadsheets of budgets, savings, and investment plans that could take us well into our 100s. And I manage the day-to-day bills, budget adherence, and documentation. These roles are much better suited for us so it works. We are both on every account and we have the information to access those accounts. The show must go on if something were ever to happen to one of us.

While this is not my favorite subject to write about, I do think it’s important that all couples be involved in how their households are run. Awareness of input and output is a great place to start. Then you can adopt the money management method best suited to your family’s needs. Keep in mind that there is a lot of benefit in having outside professionals help to establish a plan of action. Money is the leading cause of discord in a marriage with Amazon shopping addictions running a close second. So plan accordingly.

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