Last night my husband and I did something that few couples are able to do: we sat down for two whole hours and worked on our finances together without killing one another. Not only was it a highly productive time, we walked away feeling like we were united in our efforts to keep our spending under control and wipe out our debt. I want to share some insight with you on our method for approaching financial discussions, because I think we’re on to something here. More on our approach to personal finances after the jump!
It may sound silly, but we like to think of our marriage/family as a company. In fact, we even call ourselves, “Garrepy, LLC.” We even have designated roles: my husband Seth is the CEO, and I (Stacey) am the CFO and Company Comptroller. We say that we are a “Holy-Owned Subsidiary of God, Inc.” (Pun completely intended.)
This technique allows us to maintain a lighthearted approach to financial planning. If either of us feels the need to talk about the finances, we schedule what we call an “LLC Meeting.” LLC Meetings are usually semi-structured so as to allow us to stay on track and not get bogged down in the details. In fact, we had SO much to talk about last night that I actually printed an agenda and handouts for both of us! I see at least three primary advantages to this approach for us:
1) We don’t catch each other off-guard regarding the timing of when we talk about the finances, and the expectations are clear. Arguments are often caused when one spouse has an expectation of a quick conversation, while the other spouse wants to do longer-term financial planning.
2) It helps to de-personalize the often-touchy subject of the finances and thus prevent discussions or disagreements from becoming personal statements, or worse, attacks.
3) It brings a sense of fun, pretend play, and lightheartedness to a heavy and oftentimes downright boring discussion.
4) Finally, realizing that we are a “holy-owned subsidiary of God, Inc.” allows us to be able to transition the ends of our meetings into times of prayer and communion over our finances, trusting God to be our provision in our daily needs and deliver us from our debt.
Okay, so maybe you’re not going to start calling your wife your CFO, or your husband your CEO, but bringing lightheartedness with a bit of structure into your adult world can only help to relax the tension on a really stressful topic. Remember why elementary school was so fun? Because it was not only structured, but the teacher often allowed you to use your imagination and be creative and have fun! So have fun. Do your financial planning session someplace other than the drab environs of your office or kitchen. Go to a coffee shop. Take your laptops and documents and go to a hotel with the sole purpose of getting your finances in order. Do something crazy and out of the ordinary to make dealing with your money more lighthearted. Will people think you’re weird? Of course; but if they could see you singing in the shower in the morning like a crazy person, they’d realize how uptight they were and how “normal” is just a setting on one’s dryer anyway.
So as comedian Ken Davis used to say, “Lighten up…and LIVE!”
~Stacey Garrepy, CFO and Company Comptroller of Garrepy, LLC