Ask the Money Coach: Left Out of the Household Budget

Let’s face it. Most people don’t have access to a financial advisor. And if they do, those financial advisors may not take into account the human side of managing money – like how spending, saving, and stressing about it actually makes us feel.

Cue the Nav.it money coaches. We’ve long been answering money questions in the app, but now you can write in to our money coaches.

What to do if you’re not sure what’s happening with the household budget

Dear Erin,

I’m a SAHM (stay-at-home mom) with a 6-year-old, 3-year-old, and 9-month-old. I know that I’m fortunate to be able to spend the extra time with my kids, but I have no idea what is ACTUALLY going on with our money.

I get an allowance for groceries, but to be honest, I pull a little extra out to spend on the occasional Starbucks or to get my hair and nails done. Whenever I ask my husband about money, he gets defensive and asks how much I need. I just want to know what is going where.

I’m also concerned about retirement and whether or not the girls will have enough to cover their college. I feel so in the dark and powerless. How do I broach this topic with my husband?

-In Love and in the Dark


Dear In Love and in the Dark,

The beauty of marriage is that it’s designed to be a partnership. That may not sound very sexy, though marital money management sounds pretty romantic to me. I get that it’s not the happily-ever-after we are sold as kids. However, welcome to the 21st century, where GenZers are as practical in their relationships as the Boomers were fantastical. It’s a fact; marriage has many of the same legal implications as a small business. You are joint decision-makers who need each other to play their role so you can play yours. Lastly, you are both legally responsible for and own half of your wealth, assets, debt, social security, and retirement funds.

The topic of growing your wealth as a family (i.e., managing your money, your future, and your kids’ future) can be incredibly bonding if both parties see it as something they get to develop together. If there is ever a time when “stronger together” is applicable, it’s when partners manage their money and lifestyle together. Whatever role you take, from wage-earner to SAHM to making all the household purchases, your partnership is stronger because two people are contributing to making your family (aka the business of your family) successful. In the world of economics, two contributing adults increase your financial picture faster than just one.

Try this while talking about money with your partner

Try approaching the conversation from a place of partnership, support, and acknowledgment of each partner’s contributions to the family. See if you can start the conversation from a macro level. What do you want from the next three, five, and ten years? Then work backward to determine what that means for the current day-to-day choices you both make. Add to the discussion the topic of legacy and what you want to pass on to your kids. Hopefully, that helps you set the foundation for a healthy and productive conversation.

-Erin

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