Read this module OUT LOUD as a couple:

Did you know arguments about money are often one of the top reasons cited for divorce?


Money is what is called a secondary re-inforcer. It has no real value of its own.

It’s simply green paper with numbers on it. However, money can be used as a tool to secure great things for our life OR it can be used to secure the very things in life that destroy our future such as drugs and alcohol or to create an intense game of tug-of-war that ruins our relationship!

Money can be used to bless families and draw them closer together, OR it can be used a primary source of tension and power and control struggles. So what decides which it will be?

The primary things that decide the impact of money on a relationship are goals and compromise. In an unhealthy relationship money can be used as a means to keep someone emotionally captive. If one person is the breadwinner and the other partner is the child care provider, it’s important that both partners acknowledge and appreciate the value of the other person. How can that be accomplished?


Saying things like: ”I make the money around here! This is MY house and you can get out if you don’t like it” or “well you don’t work, you just stay home with the kids” leaves that partner feeling undervalued. In reality, paying a person to do all that a home-maker does in the home would be extremely expensive. Imagine having to hire a full-time child care provider willing to work from 6am until 10 o’clock at night, a cook, a housekeeper, a chauffeur, a secretary, etc. Running a home takes a lot of work. Unfortunately, even though they often work 14 hour days they don’t even get the reward of a paycheck as a thank you to honor all the sacrifices a homemaker makes.

The primary difference between financially unhealthy and financially healthy relationships is that in healthy relationships, both partners, regardless of how they contribute to the family income, have equal say in deciding the family’s financial goals.


 Kickin’ Kenny

Kickin’ Kenny loved shoes and always had the latest hottest fashion to wear around town. He was known around town for his elaborate shoe collection. Kickin’ Kenny feared being poor. Because of that, he insisted that if his wife wanted to spend any more than 10.00 she needed to call him first and ask permission. He felt very justified in doing so and felt he was protecting their future family fortune. Kickin’ Kenny was concerned his wife may go shopping and frivolously spend money. The 10.00 rule was creating daily arguments for him and his wife. Kickin’ Kenny had successfully robbed every ounce of fun out of his relationship.

Sadly, the story of Kickin’ Kenny is a true story!


Were Kenny’s “rules” for his partner’s spending money the same as for his own?

Were Kenny’s expectations for his partner’s spending the same as for his own spending?

Talk about whether you feel there should be a set amount that you need to consult with each other? If so, how much?

When we try to hand-cuff our partner financially it creates daily power and control battles. That defeats the whole purpose of being in a relationship!

A frequent question in relationships is ”what if one partner is a shopaholic?”

The important thing is, in healthy relationships, BOTH partners have a say in the budget. In that type of situation, where one partner is a “shopaholic” the couple may have to pay all the family bills out of a joint account and then equally split the “extra” money to spend as each partner sees fit.



Money Sharing:

Money is not one of the primary reasons cited for divorce. ARGUING about money is. Make sure you have a solid financial plan in place to prevent arguing about money!


Here are some possible methods for handling money as a couple:

Couple 1: Each partner pays exactly half of the bills. Each partner has their own separate accounts and separate credit cards.

Couple 2: All income is deposited into one family account. All bills are paid out of the family account. All credit cards are shared.

Couple 3: All income is deposited into a family account. After the bills are paid whatever is left is split equally and deposited half into his separate account and half into hers. Neither partner has to give account for their spending money.

Let’s Talk About It:

Which couple of the 3 couples do you feel you are currently most like financially?

What might change in your lives that would have you use a different strategy?

What would be the possible benefits of each couple’s strategy?

What would be the possible drawbacks of each couple’s strategy?

Use negotiation and compromise to devise a plan of action for your family that will minimize arguing over money.

Activity: Cooperative Budgeting

1. Each partner writes out your version of the family budget on a separate sheet of paper.

2.Now circle the COMMON GROUND in the two budgets and goals. Ignore the answers that are different. Only mark the common ground on your 2 separate budgets. Example/We both agree the mortgage and light bill are very important. No one’s answer is “right” each person is just prioritized according to THEIR top needs.

3.After you determine what you both AGREE on, each partner will list what are the top 3 categories they might be willing to cut back on or compromise on.

Do NOT make suggestions for your partner. Focus solely on your OWN spending and ignore theirs.

Now try to think of 3 financial cuts YOU would be willing to make (even it is only short-term) to build up the family savings.

Examples: getting hair cut less frequently, taking a cheaper family vacation/taking a vacation every other year or doing a Staycation, reduce their clothing budget for a while, pack a lunch instead of eat out every day, make their coffee at home, quit smoking, cut back on manicures/pedicures, buy energy drinks every other day instead of every day, drink water instead of buying soda, clip coupons, mow the lawn instead of paying someone, work out at home for 6 months instead of paying a gym membership, reduce/eliminate cable, etc. Get creative!

The goal is to generate ideas for how you could work together to free up money so that as a couple you are not spending all that you are making each month. 

Many couples play tug of war over money—and end up divorced.

Sharing common family goals that both partners have mutually agreed upon eliminates many arguments and power struggles over spending money.

Remember focus only on yourself for this activity. Write down 3 things YOU could possibly cut back on or eliminate from your spending if you chose to do so.

Him:                                                           Her:




Real Talk:

Practice our formula: When ____________ (insert factual event)

I feel _____________ (insert secondary emotions)

It would help me if_____________ (work together to brainstorm long-term solutions using compromise and negotiation. Remember to bounce the ball back and forth taking turns acknowledging your partner’s ideas/message before you give your own ideas. Visualize stepping in their shoes, try to think what they are thinking and feel what they are feeling.)

Talk through the following issues using our Healthy Communication Formula above and the good conflict resolution skills you have learned.

1.Your child needs braces and it is not in the current budget.

2.Your partner thinks 1000.00 is a good budget for holiday gifts. You were thinking 300.00.

Family Vision: Come up with a written plan of where you would like your finances to be in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, etc. Underneath of that plan write in detail what it will take to get you there. Post the document in your closet or somewhere that you can both see it on a regular basis to motivate you to keep your spending in line with your Family Vision.

“A Dictator Demands. A leader inspires!”

Activity: Use the budget below, or print one off the internet, to account for every dollar you spend for one month. We have our budget in theory–and then we have where our money is ACTUALLY going.

You will most likely be shocked when you see the answers at the end of the month.

If you don’t know where you money is going how can you possibly make it grow?

                                                                    His                                                     Hers

Monthly Expenses

Federal Income Tax

State Income tax

City Income Tax

Social Security/Medicare

Medical Insurance

Life Insurance

Disability Insurance

401(k) Contribution

SAVINGS (Pay Yourself!)


Tithe/Charitable giving

Auto Payment/Lease

Auto Insurance

Medical Insurance





Cable/Internet Phone

Cell Phone

Other Utilities

Credit Card payments


Typical Cash Expenses


Auto Maintenance


Personal Care/Hair care

Prescriptions/Medical Co-Pay


Dry Cleaning


School Expenses

Gifts (don’t underestimate)

Other Debt

Other Regular Expenses/child support

Discretionary Expenses




Dining Out Entertainment (Movies, etc.)

Home Furnishings












Monthly Income:                                          His                                     Hers

All  sources of income                        ____________                  _____________

Monthly Expenses                              ____________                   _____________

Income minus expenses:                   ____________                   _____________  (This is your GAP)

Make sure your budget has a GAP. Make sure your actual monthly spending has a GAP. The GAP is what moves us forward financially so we are not just spinning our wheels spending all we make and not moving forward.


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