Feb 262014 4 Responses

Stop Spending Your Spouse’s Dreams

If every couple would live by some very basic financial principles, marriage would be easier.

If they would build six months worth of savings, save for retirement, give generously, and live off of less than they make, then most of the fights regarding money would disappear. Generally speaking, money is one of the most common fought-over topics, and it is the easiest one to eliminate by learning to make wise choices. (See: God, Money, and Our Hearts)

There is another byproduct of making wise financial choices, especially if a couple can begin early in their marriage. The better choices a couple makes earlier in marriage, the more opportunity the couple will have to make major changes later in marriage.

In other words, a dollar saved today can be a dollar spent tomorrow on a dream or taking a risk.

Far too often, foolish decisions shackle us later in life. A couple has a dream or opportunity, but they are unwilling to take the risk because they are in debt or living paycheck to paycheck.

When Jenny and I got married, I saw a financial planner. It was a funny meeting because we didn’t have any finances to plan. Yet at the meeting I learned something valuable. Having grown up in church, I knew some basic principles about money: for every ten dollars you make, give one to God, save one, and live off the rest. This simple concept would solve 95% of money problems which young couples face.

But at the meeting, the advisor recommended I save more than just 10%. He said, “Save an extra 10% just for the fun of it. One day an opportunity will arise and you will be glad you did.”

We listened to that advice and did the best we could to follow it. We never knew what the opportunity might be, but we were saving for the day it would arise.

Last year the opportunity presented itself. Jenny wanted to start her own company. She had learned a lot in fifteen years of working for someone else, but she wanted to try things on her own. There was little doubt she could make money, but we were uncertain how long it would take.

Yet what would have been a risky decision was an easy decision because 12 years earlier a financial advisor gave us the advice to save more money than just what we would save for retirement. Having the cash in the bank would give her two years to turn a profit. The cash didn’t make the decision stress free, but it did greatly ease the pressure of the decision.

Saving allowed her dreams to come true. (See: Respect: a Necessary Ingredient for a Successful Marriage)

Whenever we fail to live by good financial principles, we are doing more than just straining our relationships, we are also suffocating our dreams. For many, even if the perfect opportunity presented itself, they would not be able to take advantage of it because they could not go two weeks without a paycheck, much less think about going two years.

Interestingly, whenever we begin to think of saving as investing in our dreams, it is easier to save. However, when we lose the connection between saving today and dreaming tomorrow, it becomes much more tempting to make poor choices today.

Healthy couples have an ability to sacrifice today in order to experience their dreams tomorrow. Unhealthy couples lose this ability. As their marriage suffers, the temptation grows to find any type of satisfaction today. Commonly the result is poor decision-making regarding finances.

Sadly, when we seek happiness today at the expense of tomorrow we often end up with happiness neither today nor tomorrow. But when we are satisfied enough in our relationship today, we can make sacrifices today in order to have dreams and take risks tomorrow. Those are often the couples who find happiness both today and tomorrow. (See: I Just Want to Be Happy)

Consider your spending today. Which is worth more—the item you want now or the dream you want to experience tomorrow.

4 Responses to Stop Spending Your Spouse’s Dreams
  1. […] On one occasion this cost them $10,000. (See: Stop Spending Your Spouse’s Dreams) […]... kevinathompson.com/irs-stole-from-my-grandparents
  2. Jamie Reply

    Right, “foolish decisions” that put you in debt. Like getting a college degree. Everyone else is starting to wake up and realize that when you live paycheck to paycheck it’s the result of a society that has screwed up priorities and rewards greediness at the expense of the honest and hardworking – not the result of personal flaws or “foolish decisions”. You need to wake up too and check your privilege.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Jamie, I do recognize my privilege. I also write this to a general audience whose characteristics I know pretty well. Clearly not everyone who lives paycheck to paycheck does so because of foolish decisions.

  3. Crystal Reply

    This was spot on. Thank you! Wish my spouse understood this, or was on the same page with me about this. We can’t seem to sync when it comes to this, and it’s incredibly frustrating.

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