The “for richer” side of marriage starts with the basics

When I need help getting in shape, I schedule a few sessions with my personal trainer without hesitation. I didn’t think twice about pre-marital counseling. So when my husband recommended that we work with a financial counselor, I didn’t blink. Well, not at first. Logically it made sense. While we did touch on money issues during our martial counseling, it didn’t take long for us to realize that if we were going to land on the “for richer” side of marriage we needed a plan.

If we were going to land on the "richer" side of marriage we needed a plan.When I learned my employer offered free financial counseling, the timing couldn’t have been better—yet I was hesitant. The thought of sitting down with someone talking about “my money”—which was now “our money”—caused me some anxiety. First, I had to quiet my inner know-it-all. I’ve been buying books on personal finance and watching “money tip and makeover” television shows for years. “This stuff should be clicking by now,” I told myself. Fortunately, I was able to get past all that “shouldas” and schedule the appointment.

Truth be told, a whole lot has changed since I purchased my first money book. I plan to continue reading money articles, books, and watching money shows, but I’m also ready to work directly with financial professionals to get more help applying all the great financial information to my personal situation. Team Blakeney has opened joint accounts and closed others. Bill paying is more fun thanks to financial date nights and much easier to track, thanks to really cool smartphone apps. While the here and now part of finances has gotten a lot easier, now it’s time to tackle the longer term goals. So I soon got over myself and my inner know-it-all was silenced (for now anyway).

Fast forward to the day of the session and Team Blakeney is in full cram mode working to complete our homework: an assessment form we downloaded from the counseling agency’s website. Unfortunately, life got busy and we didn’t get to the the pre-work prior to our session. However, having an appointment not only kept us focused on the task at hand, but also made us more accountable. We had a goal, a deadline, and a really good sense of where we thought our money was going. Just having an appointment was making us more productive.

Our assigned financial counselor, called at the appointed time and Team Blakeney was ready. Turns out he didn’t yell at me about every wrong money move I’ve made since my college days (when a free water bottle was a very good reason to sign up for a credit card). In fact, the entire session was a “judgment free zone.” There were even a few lighthearted moments when we got to a line item where one member of Team Blakeney tended to overspend. It’s official: Team Blakeney loves eating out, gadgets, and hair salons (well, that one is mostly me). However, there wasn’t any finger pointing or unrealistic vows to strip our lives to the bare bones. Instead, the focus was placed more on setting up systems that would help us to stick to the budget, save more, and pay down our debts.

Thirty days later, Team Blakeney had a follow up appointment to report our spending—an assignment designed to see exactly how much we’re actually spending when we write everything down. This wasn’t the first time we attempted to track our spending, but having a scheduled follow up session with our financial counselor marked the first time we BOTH stuck to it. Both sessions helped us see that our blended family is anything but cookie cutter. For example, for us, travel isn’t a leisure item. During the school year the girls are in another state with their mom, which means lots of driving up and down the interstate for extended weekends, spring breaks, and holidays. In addition, the majority of my family is spread out over four states, which means flights and road trips are required line items in the budget. While we weren’t going too far over budget, our second session helped us see that we have more line items than we thought and that we need to proactively save for those times when certain line items will spike.

Financial counseling is pretty basic, but two years into blending finances and family traditions, basic is necessary and helpful. Why? Because having information is one thing, while applying it is another. Slowly but surely new habits and goals are forming. Team Blakeney is taking the whole “for richer” vow much more seriously.

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4 Responses to The “for richer” side of marriage starts with the basics

  1. Monica says:

    Hello, my name is Monica. I just got married and I am very happy! I do hear alot of things about money being one of the main issues couples have to deal with and I will really appreciate if someone took the time to tell me how to handle the “money part” with my husband. I don’t know if he’s suppose to pay rent and bills while i save all my money. I’d love to help out, but I don’t want to feel like we’re roomates going half and half with all the expenses. I need lots of help with this. Please somebody advice me on this one.

    Thank You
    Monica C.

    • Danyelle C. says:

      Hi Monica. That is a very good question. My husband and I have been married for 2 years now and our solution is that mainly his income in for bills and mines for saving and entertainment. We have joint accounts, so there is no “his” and “hers” but “ours”.

  2. Edna R says:

    Depends on what you two want. I know one couple that has a joint account for all the joint bills (mortgage, utilities, etc). The rest of their money is kept in their individual accounts. I know a couple who puts everything into one account. They are both happy with their arrangement. Money is a touchy subject for a lot of people. You just need to be honest and talk to him about what you think, your expectations, your goals and see where you two can compromise to align yours and his goals to make it an “our goals”.

  3. ms K says:

    Danyelle, I sometimes wanted TO YELL! I took on the challenge, some years back, to be GOD’s Best as a wife of sorts to someone registered as brain dead but still living, hoping and expecting that if this is the assignment GOD most wanted me to except as a marriage he wants to use to prove HIS love is ongoing forever and forever to mankind and SEE WHAT GOD DID and can do FOR YOU!!! (to others) It appears that every time i choose to bank with my fellow that money disappears from my asccount that I did not authorize and he did not wait to get an okay from me to lossen my purse strings. He gets more money than I do a month and yet for 5 years, I have been doing all the funding til…last month when I complained. For the first time since our Burger King date after a money conference on creating positive streams of income for your family, he took on the challlenge to FEED ME on occasion when he got some change…like its’ suppose to be but still he…has no real funds to assist me with the DEEP trouble i have gotten into between helping him with his goals for proposing a real marriage to me and providing us with a home for us and my family…a in the lurch retired military family in trouble for years and I’m the eldest which means the burden to help everyone mostly rests with me unless my capt in an airlines bro learns to control his fiances and practices sharing the wealth. my fiance/man of 5 years plus wants to do more and i havbe given him info as i discovered it to help him but…i wish this occurred yesterday. to date he is STILL BROKE. i’m still in deep do do. Iwant to throw in the towel but cannot give up on GOD. What would you do while working on faith issues and conflicts if you were me. I want to be faithful to GOD FOrEVER and be a good steward with all this debt and desire. possibilities seem on the morrow but i’d like some GREAT advice to get there. My other man friend steals my money and gives some back to me to pretend he gave me something out of his pocket and yells profanities and has made me lose my section 8 housing voucher by stealing it while singing…he is a working man and he doesn’t understand why women never pick him unless he kidnaps them like he did me and browbeating me as he lies more to be in good respect with the men he wants to be respcted by no matter what he does to me and whoever was in his life before me.
    Then there is this other guy who had the nerve to say to me…pick him or me…without showing me a reason to believe he desires an everlasting relationship. Virginia men are driving me CRAZY as they are little like the Virginia Flag Football Coach I meant in 9th grade at Jesse Stuart High in Louisville Ky named Jerry who made me think when I grew up I’d like to marry a Virginia man. He was a real gentle gentleman of a different ethnic but a fellow American who enjoyed helping us gals conquer the other team with technique and style and lots of practise and never once raised his voice or uttered, as far as I could tell, 1 item that would make us think he was some new type of lunatic or unsafe person or a womanizing hero. Am I in deep do do or is it just a lack of faith in practise? i walked by faith prayerfully for over 6 years not including countless prayerwarrior prayers since 10th grade for my special man I had not met yet.Now i am a senior in age but age 23 in heart. Advise me please. I love everyone but…feel i could use some wifey and womanly advise. New to all this.

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