When the last piece of the wedding cake has been eaten, you and your sweetheart walk off into the sunset hand in hand. It feels like nothing will ever go wrong again.
But the next morning, you wake up, and real life begins. As husband and wife, you’re embarking on a journey in every sense of the word. Ultimately, it’s a spiritual one, but there are temporal lessons to along the way. One of the biggest of these is how to successfully – and harmoniously – manage your finances. “The responsibility to manage family finances should be shared between husband and wife with an attitude of trust and openness,” members are counselled on lds.org.
But that’s easier said than done. Some eye-opening statistics attest to this: it’s often said that financial strife is a leading cause for divorce, and a survey conducted in 2015 by SunBank1 found that money was the leading cause of stress in relationships. More than one out of three people in a marriage or relationship said that “money problems” were creating strain.
We asked two married couples who are getting it right to share some advice for newly-weds. What has helped them make their finances work?
If you don’t have it, don’t spend it. For Laveck and Eugenia Nguni from Zimbabwe, sticking to the golden rule of “living within your means” has helped to guide them through 18 years of marriage. “Stick to your needs,” says Eugenia. “If there’s extra money left over at the end of the month, then you can take care of your wants.” This might take some proactive communication between husband and wife. After all, you’ve come from different backgrounds and probably have different ideas around what a “need” really is.
Don’t compare yourself to others. “Your friends may have a house or a nice car,” says Larry Kasaje from Uganda. But that makes no difference in your life. Forget about them, counsels his wife Jenny, from Madagascar. Focus on making your own money work for you. “Even if the money is little, you need to make sure that it is enough for you and do things to increase it.” Getting distracted by trying to keep up with your neighbours will detract from that goal.
Consider cutting up your credit cards. This may sound daunting if you’ve become used to having an extra line of credit to smooth over the bumps, but for Laveck and Eugenia, “no credit cards” is a way of ensuring that you never spend money you don’t have. Eugenia also cautions against being seduced by sales. “Resist every temptation not to buy every special offer from shops,” she says. It may feel like you’re ‘saving’ money, but you’re often exceeding your budget to do it.
Save up one extra month’s worth of income. Larry, who is self-employed, says that abiding by this principle has given the family much financial peace. “There’s less stress in the home” with the added security of money saved up, says Larry.
Faith and prayer apply to finances, too. Eugenia and Laveck counsel that couples and families should “pray together”. Whether it’s about finances or anything else, prayer will keep you both listening to the spirit and focused on a common goal. And when it comes to making tough calls based on good gospel principles, “Just do it!” says Jenny.
“There were times when we thought that if we were to pay our tithes then we wouldn’t have enough for everything,” said Larry. “But we did pay our tithes, and miracles have happened – in small measures, but to us I think, they are great,” he says. “We feel happy that the blessings that the Lord has given us, in this time, are the blessings that fill our needs.”