In the early 1980’s, I saw a cute blond and fell head over heels in love. That cute blond was Kim. We started dating, and eventually we got married. She’s the love of my life, my best friend, and the reason why I’m successful today. Over the years, our marriage has gotten stronger and better. I thank God for her everyday.
A lot of people see Kim and I today and think we’re happy because we’re rich. The reality is that when I met Kim, I was broke and a million dollars in debt after the failure of my first business selling rock and roll Velcro wallets. Thankfully, Kim stuck with me, and I know that Kim isn’t with me because of my money—and I’m not with her because of hers!
For many years, Kim and I struggled financially. In that respect, we were no different than many young couples. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was stressful at times, but we worked together as a team, persevered, and had a plan.
According to a recent study by Utah State University, the biggest thing couples fight about is money. No surprise there. Money is important for happiness, health, and harmony. When you don’t have enough money to pay the bills, take care of your family, and have a little fun together, it’s a big stress. And it’s an even bigger stress when you know you don’t have enough because of financial mistakes made by one spouse or both.
Money is such a big stress that couples that fight about money more than once a week have a 30 percent higher chance of divorce.
It’s a shame that money causes people who once loved each other to break up. Usually, after asking people who share their stories a few pointed questions, I find that most breakups caused by money are a result of bad planning, poor financial intelligence, and unmet and unexpressed expectations.
Because a rich life is about more than just what’s in your bank account, I thought I’d share a few thoughts here on how to make marriage and money work.
Make a plan
When Kim and I were broke, we still knew where we were going. Each year, we’d sit down and write out our financial goals. For me, it was starting a financial education company, building businesses, and investing in oil and real estate. For Kim, it was building a substantial real estate portfolio.
Each month, we’d sit down and discuss what we were doing to accomplish those goals, encourage each other, and make adjustments as needed. Everything in our life was directed towards reaching our goals, which helped us with spending decisions, life choices, and commitments.
Most importantly, we communicated our goals, and there was a clear understanding of expectations on both sides.
Since we were both broke when we got married, we depended on each other instead of one person depending on the other. I was no sugar daddy, and Kim wasn’t my sugar mama. Instead, we grew together.
Today, Kim and I have separate accounts, investments, and ventures. We’re both wealthy and don’t need each other. This makes it much easier to want each other. Because we each take care of our financial houses, it eliminates much stress and fighting.
Be a team
Even though we’re independent financially, we’re still a team and we know that as a team we share in each other’s problems and celebrate each other’s victories.
As a team, we communicate constantly, making changes as needed. I seek Kim for advice on my financial ventures, and she does the same. If there are problems, we help each other out. And like a team, we’re not competing against each other. We want to see each other win and we cheer each other on.
Increase your financial education
The first gift I ever bought Kim was a class on accounting. I knew her goal of becoming a real estate investor and I knew she’d need to know accounting. For years, we worked on our financial education, often reading books together, taking classes together, and attending seminars together. Now, we write books together, teach classes together, and give seminars together—and we’re still learning.
In a marriage, both partners need to be financially independent. This means both partners need to be financially intelligent and committed to always increasing financial education.
This has always been out goal as a couple, and today, because Kim is so smart financially, she’s independently wealthy.
Learn from mistakes (and laugh)
Finally, understand that life is a journey. Many couples have a hard time with financial mistakes because they have the expectation that hard times won’t or shouldn’t come. Every couple faces hard financial times. It’s your response to them as a couple that will make or break your marriage.
For Kim and I, we always looked at our setbacks as learning opportunities. And because we were a team, we tackled those problems together—and learned from them together.
Also, we laughed together a lot. Kim is my best friend. When life get’s hard, it also often gets absurd. If you can’t stand back with your best friend and laugh at the difficulties and absurdities of life, you’re screwed.
One of the best ways to get financially smarter is to take mistakes as learning opportunities and to stay positive and good humored together.