Imagine you won $50. How would you spend your prize? Now imagine that there's a catch with this prize: before you can claim your prize you must agree with your spouse on how to spend the money. Deciding how to spend the $50 may seem a little more complicated if you and your spouse have differing ideas on how to spend it.
Understanding financial stress
On a much grander scale, you may find that your relationship, either with your spouse or with your children, feels a strain during a time of financial stress. Children can often sense a parent's stress, which can cause a child to worry or misinterpret the stress as anger. It can also be frustrating for parents and children alike when parents want to save money, and children want to spend it - as children often can't understand why saving for something currently intangible, like retirement or an upcoming move, is so important. It can be difficult for children to understand the concept of saving for the future or for large purchases. Often, any money they earn burns a hole in their pocket.
Child-parent relationships aren't the only ones that can feel strain in the midst of financial stress. Tension between spouses may be even more common since both spouses have a say in how and when to spend money. This shared role in family finances can be complicated since many times a couple is comprised of a spender and a saver. You may want to save as much of the income as possible while your spouse is itching to spend.
Communicate with your spouse
Complications can also arise if both you and your spouse are both spenders by nature without the drive to save. In relationships with two spenders, you may frequently find yourself in financial stress because your money runs out before the next payday and you're forced to turn to credit, which can create a debt cycle that is hard to escape from.
Spouses often prioritize expenses and wants differently, and both of you will need to make sacrifices on occasion to eventually reach a compromise. One way to improve your financial situation, and ease any tension it may cause in your relationship, is to create a spending plan. Sit down with your spouse and create the plan together so both of you can see exactly how much money you start with and where the majority of your money goes. You may find areas to cut back and increase the amount of money you can put away each month.
Get your children involved
Involving children in the family spending plan can help them learn about financial limitations and better appreciate the financial decisions you must make for the family. You might ask your child to share his or her priorities. Perhaps he or she would be willing to cut back on entertainment to allow for a larger clothing budget. If your child has an allowance or other income, consider helping your child create a simple spending plan to help him or her save for a special purchase. Having a spending plan of his or her own can help your child relate to decisions about the family's spending plan.
Keep an open line of communication about money in your family. Be sure to hear everyone's concerns and opinions, and use your family's spending plan to determine what can be done to meet the needs - and occasional wants - of each family member.
Reach out for help
There are many resources you can reach out to for financial advice. Contact your local Military and Family Support Center for advice. You can also learn about managing your finances on Military OneSource. Reach out to Military OneSource for no-cost financial counseling. Less financial stress leads to happier and healthier families, so don’t hesitate to ask for help.