One of the most stressful things in a marriage is money, usually because we don’t have enough of it. Money is the currency of safety. A house, food, bills paid, clothes and transport are all things we need. We also have a tendency to want things on top of the basic needs. We want to look nice, drive a nice car, have a home that has modern conveniences and is stylish. Add to this our café culture, our arts and ‘experiences’ lens, our zest for travel and you can see that it is starting to add up. I haven’t even factored kids into this conversation. The costs associated with getting pregnant (IVF), setting up for a baby, having time off work to care for the baby, care costs whilst you are at work. We know this is the tip of the iceberg.
We need and want a lot. That costs a lot. We have finite amounts of resources. We trade our time for money, and then we trade our money for needs and wants. All of that is as old as time. What’s tricky for us at this moment, is that most of us can’t afford the life that we want. What’s most concerning for us, is that most of us can’t afford the life that we lead.
Housing affordability in Australia's big cities is at an all time low. 90% of Australians do no not have the super funds they need to afford retirement.
The toll that not having enough money takes on yourself and on your relationships creates stress, loneliness and disconnection. Money is a critical key to a safe existence.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs shows us that safety is at the very bottom of the pyramid above physiological safety. It is the foundation of all the other levels. If we aren’t safe in our lives because we have credit card debt, huge house related debt, car related debt, personal loan related debt then our foundations in our relationships will be under threat. If you are still with me, we have identified a significant number of stressors and threats in our lives. And what we know for sure, is that stressors and threats to our security have a significant negative impact on our relationships with ourselves, our partners, our kids, our families, and perhaps even our friends and communities.
But there are things we can do to take back feeling in control of our finances:
Pull back the rug: Most of us don’t look too deeply at our credit card bills, financial statements of money going out, versus money coming in. We don’t like to look at our superannuation (retirement planning) and we don’t want to stop having our luxury items. So we put our head in the sand. It might come with some initial discomfort, but life is much better when you know the reality of the life you are consuming. There is a great free app called pocketbook, that we use to understand our financials. Once you have this information, it’s time to:
See a financial planner: Yes it’s an expense. But finding a financial planner that you trust, will help you make a commitment to managing your money. This will help you feel more powerful. It also gives you and your partner a joint language for your goals and commitments to each other, bringing you closer to work as a team. You will also feel safer having a plan around your financial security reducing loneliness and stress while increasing closeness and intimacy.
Talk about the hard things: Is someone using spending as a way to self soothe? Is someone spending too much on an unhealthy habit? Does your spending align with your goals? Are you in so much debt, further spending just gets lumped onto the house debt. If you are derailing in your financial plans, you need to have a conversation about it.
Build in a system that allows treats, and income for your own discretion: Life is a wonderful thing, but it’s also hard. And we are all working hard. It’s so important that we build in feelings of power and choice into our money. Everything in moderation, right.
What’s your relationship like when it comes to money?