Cruze: Meaningful conversations about money with your spouse
My dad, Dave Ramsey, filed for bankruptcy the year I was born.
My older sister was about 3. So with a brand-new baby, a toddler and, as Dad says all the time, “a marriage hanging by a thread,” things hit rock bottom. Hard. It took them a good five years to climb out of that hole — right around the same time of my earliest memories.
Because of my parents’ hard work after that soul-crushing bankruptcy, I was able to learn firsthand the value of managing money well. I learned that my income is my biggest wealth-building tool, so I never took on any debt — and I never will. I don’t say that to pat myself on the back, but to show you what a big impact our parents can have on our money outlook.
How you grew up, and the environment you were raised in, shaped your money beliefs and your habits with money in very specific ways.
That’s why when I help couples get on the same page with their money, I start with their childhood. As children grow, more is caught than taught, meaning children absorb a lot about money without even realizing it. For some, money is stressful and secretive. For others, it’s peaceful and positive. Each household starts with the same basic ingredients—money, income, bills and goals—but things can look and feel very different from one house to another.
Your story may not involve something as drastic as bankruptcy, but your childhood household was your money classroom. Now as an adult, you may handle money just like your parents did when you were growing up, or you may have deliberately chosen to do the exact opposite of what your parents did. Regardless, we each learned lessons in our childhoods that we’ve taken into adulthood. Some are good habits and healthy views on money that help us. Some are lessons we wish we could unlearn.
Talking through this with your spouse will be eye-opening. Knowing how your spouse grew up thinking about money might explain why they get buyer’s remorse after every purchase, why you hate budgeting or why either of you gets uncomfortable talking about money. If you want help getting the conversation started, here’s some more advice to help remove the stress around talking about money with your spouse.
Having an honest conversation about what money was like for each of you growing up will help you understand each other better. And it’ll help you squash your fears together, and align your dreams and goals. Remember, you’re a team — and a team only wins when everyone works together!