15 May 2015

7 Ways to Keep Financial Harmony in Your Entrepreneurial Marriage

In many ways, Marriage and Entrepreneurship seem contradictory. Entrepreneurship is typically a risk-taking solo act, while marriage is more about finding security and increasing unity. So when these two aspects merge alongside one another on the road of life they are bound to have some issues. 

Research shows that finances, intimacy, child rearing and extended family issues tend to top the charts in regards to the top topics of marital disagreements. However, it is the topic of finances that predicts divorce better than other other marital issue. *

Which is why I believe it is vital to understand how money functions within your relationship because if you aren't paying attention it can lead down a road you didn't really intend to follow.

Here are 7 Ways to Help Keep Financial Harmony in your Entrepreneurial Marriage:

1. Set Guidelines. 

Relationships are a conglomeration of the hopes, dreams and expectations of two uniquely individual people so setting guidelines as a team is a must. Be sure to set up guidelines that each partner is comfortable with. You won't build up resentment if you've honestly agreed to something. And if your current guidelines need adjusting as things change there should be room for that too.

2. Build Financial Plans. 

If there is one thing I've learned from the life of Entrepreneurship, it's that everything takes 2 times as long and costs 3 times as much as you think it will. With that in mind, build a financial plan that will offer some protection and a future for your family. You'll need to protect your credit scores and your bank accounts in order to do so. And even if the amount of money coming in seems small, having a financial plan will help you get excited about building a future together and protecting the family at the same time.

3. Allow financial freedom. 

We each have different priorities and preferences and how we spend our money is a strong indicator of what we really value. Discretionary income is a must for any partnership regardless of who brings home the most money. Having your own money to utilize, whether it is $10 or $100, allows each partner to have an individual identity that will actually enhance the relationship if you let it.  

4. Be Accountable. 

While the "guidelines" are like the rules to your financial plan, without proper consequences the rules have little bearing. Accountability isn't about control and shouldn't force limits on our partners (except in extenuating circumstances). With proper discussions about how each partner in handling their aspect of the money you will build trust, understanding and respect. Let it be clear that hiding expenses or purchases from your spouse or making large purchases without consulting with each other first can be a recipe for disaster. 

5. Keep it Real. 

You can't expect to live the life of luxury if you don't have an income level that puts you in the position to do so. As the Entrepreneur you can't scrape every dime away from the family for the sake of the company and as the spouse of the Entrepreneur you can't demand that your Entrepreneur works longer and more demanding hours to provide for an extravagant life. Remember that living a full life and an expensive life are two different things. You can live well on any budget if you align the amount of money you are making and your standard of living. And if one or the other needs to be adjusted then take some time to figure out the steps it will take to get there.

6. Fight Fair.

The reason we tend to argue about money is because it is more measurable than other aspects of the relationship. Money can easily become about power and control in your marriage if you don't learn how to work together in financial matters. Differences in opinions on matters of when, where and how much money should be spent for an variety of items or events must be discussed kindly and maturely otherwise you'll just end up digging a big hole for yourself to fight in. 

7. Let Money Matter.

It is naive to think that money doesn't matter, because the truth is, it does. We use or utilize money almost every day so it would be wise to increase your education and management skills in regards to your financial situation. Marriage is a partnership and both partners need to be informed and involved in the financial aspects of their partnership...for both their sakes. Money does matter...it isn't EVERYTHING, but it does matter. Seek to utilize it for good in your business and your relationship and hopefully you will see both begin to thrive.

*Examining the Relationship Between Financial Issues and Divorce. 
Dew, J., Britt, S. and Huston, S. (2012), Examining the Relationship Between Financial Issues and Divorce. Family Relations, 61: 615–628. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-3729.2012.00715.x