Published on SWAAY
by Laleh A. Hancock
Marriage changes a lot of things – and it can have a significant impact on how you deal with your finances. Marriage can contribute to your financial empowerment too, but not many of us are taught about how we can actually do this successfully and easily.
Before I married my second husband, I was a single mom of young twin-girls, and I was doing great in my career and finances. In fact, I was a Vice President of Programs & Services working with Fortune 100 companies and top government agencies, owned a penthouse condominium, had no debt, and my salary was twice as much money as my husband-to-be.
Shortly before we got married, my father passed away and so much changed in my career and life priorities. One of those changes, once I got married, was to leave the technology sector and my lucrative executive job to work as a Senior Vice President at a not-for-profit organization taking a 40 percent pay cut in my salary.
It took me some time to realize that in addition to a reduced pay in my career, I had also given up some part of my financial empowerment when I got married. The irony was that although I was the “CFO and COO” of the family by managing the household, paying the expenses, taking care of the children and our home renovation projects, something had gone off-kilter with my capacity to generate more money for me. My husband, however, was continuously increasing his income.
I sometimes joke that I am the executive that finally got her “groove back.” I love business and creating money, it took a few years to realize I had (somewhat unconsciously) decided that being married meant changing my priorities to make sure my husband was the leader of the family; empowering his business to make sure he was the main breadwinner. My husband isn’t the kind of man who would ever need or expect that in our relationship, so I knew that I had to change things and enjoy being married and financially empowered.
It all started with me challenging some of my hidden ideas about money and marriage, and taking pragmatic steps to consciously increase my financial possibilities.
No matter your current financial situation or relationship status, you can expand your financial possibilities both as an individual and within a partnership or marriage – and here are five essential keys to help you get started:
1. Examine your points of view about money and relationships – and prioritize your financial prosperity
There is nothing wrong with changing your priorities and taking on different financial roles in a marriage – in fact, you and your spouse can create more financially together than you ever did as individuals.
Part of getting my financial groove back was examining more closely the points of view I had let subconsciously run the show in my marriage – and honestly asking myself whether those points of view were true for me, or could I change them and allow something different to be created.
Are there places in your life where you have let other people’s points of view about your relationship or marriage limit or stop you exploring your capacities with money? Have you prioritized care of your spouse, family and house, and assumed that you cannot easily have the generation of money as a priority as well?
Even for unmarried women, it is common to prioritize money less and to focus more on the creative and contributive aspects of their business or career. Women can let themselves get stuck in a polarized idea that there is an either/or universe when it comes to care-taking and money-making, and decide they have to or should drop financial priorities when they get married or have a family – when this isn’t the case at all!
You don’t have to give up on your financial priorities and desires. It can be as simple as proactively putting the priority for your financial prosperity back on the table, and then taking some simple actions.
2. Know your expenses and income – to the dollar!
The first part of empowering yourself financially within a marriage is knowing exactly what money is coming in and going out. This clarity is essential because, without it, you won’t know where you are or what to aim for next.
Take time to sit down and write down all your monthly personal and business income and expenses, or get a copy of your profit and loss statement from your accountant.
Give as much attention to knowing the income as the expenses – you need to be aware of both so that you don’t form an untrue picture of what is happening in your financial world.
People often pay more attention to expenses as they see the money being spent, while not really looking at what they are bringing in. A lot of people are surprised at how much money they are actually generating each month, especially if they are running their own businesses. You may already be creating more money than you think!
3. Have financially empowering conversations with yourself and your partner
Money is one of the main sources of argument in relationships. Many couples do not talk about money unless it is around big events like a holiday or buying a house or car, and few couples have the right tools to have proactive conversations about creating with finances in a way that is generative and even fun.
Make time to have a ‘money date’ on a weekly or at least monthly basis to talk about different possibilities with your finances. Have this conversation both with your partner and with yourself.
Ask questions that get you to explore possibilities and new choices for generating money:
- Where are we now? Where would we like to be in 5, 10, 20 years from now?
- What do we desire to add to our lives?
- What other ways can we bring in income we haven’t considered yet?
- What ways could we educate and invest in our future with our money we haven’t considered?
Avoid conversations that are just about budgeting and cost-cutting. There may be expenses that you realize are not contributing to your lives and choose to let them go or reduce them. But keep your attention forward-focused and generative in outlook, and you will be more likely to take expansive steps towards financial empowerment.
4. Educate yourselves and each other about money – and enjoy it!
Educating yourself about money can take many forms. You can research the history of money to get an insight into how it works (The Ascent of Money series by the BBC is a great start) and you can also educate yourself on different ways you can invest your money to make it grow.
Prior to our wedding, I educated my husband about diamonds. I taught him about the way diamonds are graded and we selected each diamond on my engagement ring ourselves. In the end, I had a ring that was not only beautiful to me aesthetically, but we had invested in something that will continue to increase in value.
I still buy jewelry as it is one of my favorite ways to invest my money. My husband jokes that I make investments that I can wear, but it works for me and makes me money. That said, I also have a diverse portfolio of stocks, cryptocurrency, and real estate.
Learn about items of value, or ways of using your money to make more money – and let curiosity and enjoyment be your guide!
5. Be the CFO of your life and your marriage
If you were the CFO of your life and in your relationship, what would you choose differently than you are now?
Everyone has different interests and capacities with money and finances – and all of us have an untapped capacity for creating more money and changing our financial worlds. Ultimately, it’s time to explore what works for you in your life and relationship – because it truly is different for everyone.
Continually explore your options and ask more questions to empower you financially in your relationship: Are you using your natural capacities to financially empower you and your marriage? What roles could you each take, and what else could you bring to the table? What are your strengths? What are your partner’s strengths? Where do you both require input, assistance, or more information?
There is no right or wrong way to become financially empowered in your marriage. Just as every couple is unique and every individual is unique, the way you create your financial world independently and together will be different too.
If you are willing to gain clarity on your finances, educate yourself, ask some different questions and have some different conversations about money – and let your curiosity and enjoyment guide you, you will begin to discover what is truly possible in your financial world.
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