Monthly Archives: September 2012

Sep 28

7 Simple Steps to Financial Success in Your Marriage

By Dustin | Finances & Careers

Money MarriageThere are certainly many issues that impact the quality of our marriages.  But if I had to pick the top one, especially in recent years, I would choose money.

It’s said that money fights and financial problems are the top reason for divorce, and that seems likely since it touches most areas of our lives.

But I don’t think we should focus on the negative aspects of managing our finances.  With the right plan, your finances can be a source of comfort within your marriage, and the managing of your money really can bring you much closer together in your relationship.

Money handled properly in marriage can be a source of amazing intimacy. (click to tweet)

That is not to say that money is the center of life or that managing the family finances must be a heavy burden. In fact, financial success is really just a matter of making good choices consistently. And do you wanna know the best path toward achieving your financial goals?

Keep it simple.

Really. In a world dominated by consumerism, credit card commercials and crazy derivative stock options, you will be well-served to take a deep breath and consider what you really want from life.  I’m willing to bet that your true priorities fall close to home and close to your heart.

If so, I have some advice that I trust you will value. This isn’t earth-shattering and it’s really not original. In fact, it is the same advice we have heard from our grandmothers our entire lives.

It’s not complicated, but it sure is effective.

Seven Simple Steps for Financial Success

1. Build a basic budget…together.

OK, so maybe you hate idea of having a budget and counting every penny. Honestly, I don’t care how detailed and meticulous you want to be with this. In fact, simple is better.

The two key components of a meaningful family budget are: (1) to proactively plan ahead for how you will spend your money and (2) to create it with your spouse. And the real beauty lies in the latter.

You and your spouse must create your budget together and you must agree to follow the same budget, pinkie-swear and spit-shake. When you take this approach, a budget can become a surprisingly valuable tool in your marriage. Real communication is needed to formulate a plan, and real trust is developed when you both stick to it out of respect for your spouse.

Click here to learn exactly how to create a great budget that will serve your marriage well.

2. Work together from a single account.

Do you and your spouse operate with separate checking accounts or a “yours, mine and ours” approach to your family finances?

I would strongly encourage you to consider simplifying your life by consolidating everything into a single checking account. Not only will it be easier to keep track of, but you will benefit by shifting your mindset to one of unity with your money.

As a bonus, you can expect that the openness and communication required to make a single account a success will carry over and enhance other aspects of your married life.

I’m aware that this suggestions come with a crazy amount of controversy.  You can read my thoughts along with over 120 other comments on the topic right here.

3. Eliminate your debt.

None of us enjoy sending out those payments to the bank, car finance company or student loan office each month, right? In fact, I think we can all agree that it sucks to have your income spoken for by debt payments before you even receive a paycheck. So, if we all hate the payments, why do so many families have them?

It’s a matter of mindset. If you feel like you’ll never have anything of value without an accompanying payment book, you’re probably right.

However, if you are fed up with being normal (i.e., deeply in debt), you can shed the debt and achieve financial freedom. You set the priorities, and you make the decisions that will allow you to dumb the debt.

Bethany and I paid off over $54,000 in debt in around three years, and I can tell you that it’s not easy but it is worth it. And the lack of payments really simplifies your financial life.

4. Stick with simple (and effective) investments.

As a rule, if you don’t fully understand something, you should not invest in it. If you chase the latest hot trend and buy what everyone is recommending, you are almost assuring yourself of poor returns. Keep in mind that if thousands of highly-paid professionals spending their entire lives studying the market cannot beat it, neither can you.

Instead, take a simple approach and focus your investing in areas with a long track record of success. Personally, I think it is tough to beat a diversified mix of index mutual funds for retirement investing. They are not sexy or flashy. But they are very effective, low in cost and easy to understand.

That’s a formula for long-term success.

5. Enjoy the simple things in life. Live within your means.

At the end of the day, it really does come back to living on less than you make. I hope you make a lot of money and love what you do to earn it. However, the critical point here is that you really don’t need a ton of money to be financially successful.

The key is contentment. Quit placing your value in material things and trying to maintain a high-cost lifestyle. When you learn to appreciate your family and value the simple pleasures in life, your need to impress the neighbors really does start to fade.

Life is all about the simple things.

6. Pass it on.

In my opinion, the best part of simplifying your financial life and finding contentment with your lifestyle is the impact it has on your relationship with your spouse and the example it sets for your kids. When you break the cycle of debt dependence and fights about money, you set the stage for financial success for generations to come.

You literally have the ability to change the future shape of your family tree.

7. Keep Learning & Stay Inspired

There are certain milestones that you will love to celebrate in your financial journey (can I hear a “heck yeah” for paying off your last debt?).  You should cherish them and never look back after hitting these key moments.

But you’ll be dealing with money in your marriage for the rest of your life, so I’d encourage you to continue to seek more knowledge and to stay motivated to accomplish great things for your family.  To get you started, I’ve created a simple collection of the best advice we have to share on the topics of money, careers and debt freedom.

Were these suggestions brilliant, original and completely unexpected? Of course not. I’d venture to guess that you knew these things, but you may not be living them. The key is to take action.

Simplify your financial life and invite new success with your money and, most importantly, your marriage.

How do you feel about these suggestions? Where can you improve your finances by taking a simpler approach?

(Photo by alancleaver_2000)
Sep 18

An Invitation to Unbucket

By Dustin | Romance

Note: I invited Elliot to share a really cool new app he’s launching that I think you’ll enjoy using with your spouse. Enjoy!

This summer we launched a closed-beta of a web application called Unbucket. It’s a platform for people to plan future experiences through shared lists. As with any new venture, the quicker you learn from your target audience, the better chance you have of building a successful product.

One audience I believe Unbucket serves well is couples seeking out practical and actionable ways to introduce meaning and engagement into a marriage. I was excited by the opportunity to reach out to you, the Engaged Marriage community, to validate this theory and to help me learn what steps we need to improve Unbucket to serve your needs.

Before extending you an invitation to join Unbucket, I thought I’d answer a couple questions that better explain what we’re all about.

In practical terms, how would you describe the way Unbucket works?

“That sounds fun, we should do that,” is a common phrase heard in marriages. What happens next is often, well, nothing: A moment of intention disappears into the ether and whatever sounded fun, never actually comes to fruition.

With Unbucket, couples can create private, jointly accessible lists stored in the cloud. All future experiences get added to the list so, “That sounds fun,” is always followed by, “add it to our Unbucket list!” Notes and media can be added to individual list items before and after experiences are completed to aid in planning as well as to capture memories.

Why did you choose lists?

The motivational power of lists is well documented. The very act of transferring intentions from our minds to the physical world gives those intentions a better chance of actually coming to fruition.

Therefore it’s our theory that a list of things to experience shared between a married couple not only gives that couple a better chance of living a more active life, but it also represents a commitment to a more active life lived together.

So Unbucket is about lists of experiences, not task lists?

Exactly. There are some great task list applications out there; Unbucket isn’t one of them.

We truly believe in the necessity for a relationship to share a different type of list, life lists, and we think these deserve and demand a unique type of application catered to not only planning experiences, but to documenting the memories born from them too.

What are some lists you’ve seen married couples create on Unbucket?

A favorite example of ours is a list between a husband and wife leaving Washington D.C. for good. On their shared list are all the things they want to do in the city before they move (e.g. Visit the Smithsonian).

Another couple has created a list of things to do with their unborn child in the first years of its life. Restaurant lists, movie lists, and travel lists are all very popular too.

How can the Engaged Marriage community help?

Join Unbucket for free and start a list with your significant other. Let us know what we got right and what we got wrong. Tell us what’s missing or what we should change.

We live for feedback and as I acknowledged before, we recognize it’s absolutely core to our success. My email address is elliot@unbucket.com; I assure you I’ll take the time to respond to each email you send personally and with care.

With that, here is an invitation to Unbucket: http://www.unbucket.com/beta/engaged

Thank you for your time, I sincerely hope Unbucket enhances your marriage. Either way, I can’t wait to hear from you all.

Elliot Darvick lives in Los Angeles and is the Co-Founder of Unbucket. He enjoys reading technology news, listening to a full-length albums with no distraction, and thinking about new burger recipes. He’s very proud of his Midwestern roots.

Sep 05

6 Things You Must Do to Love Your Wife – Part 2

By Dustin | Communication

Note: This is the much-anticipated second part to this series.  Be sure to check out Part One!

Husbands, in our last post, we covered the first three things you must do to love your wife: Be close to her, open up with her, and seek to understand her.

Now, we’ll cover the next three things you must do.

Peacemaking

“But those who marry will face many troubles in this life” (1 Corinthians 7:28)

Every couple experiences conflict or tension at some point in their relationship. But when this happens, you and your wife aren’t fully at peace. Without peace, she doesn’t feel close, doesn’t feel you’re open, and doesn’t feel like you understand.

And all this is traced back to the tension that has come between you.

But as the man, if you take the lead in working through the conflict, you’ll deepen your understanding of each other, and appreciate one another all the more.

As you have conflict, your wife can feel rejected by you in a way that you don’t feel rejected by her. That’s why she’ll want to have things resolved, and she’ll move toward you to get this done.

So don’t refuse to make peace by running from the conflict. Conflict isn’t a sign of a bad marriage. The Bible is clear in saying that you will have troubles in your marriage.

As man and woman, you both have equal but different needs. But as the man, as you take the lead in acting together to work out your tensions, your relationship will deepen more and more.

But if you ever try to end a conflict by saying, “Just drop it,” your wife will likely think you’re still angry with her. She’ll feel as though the issue is still unresolved, making it hard for her to be happy.

So how do you make peace with your wife? First, show a loving demeanor during conflict of any kind. It’ll touch the deepest part of her heart.

Second, confess your part of the blame. The percentage of guilt isn’t the issue. The real issue is loving her and resolving the conflict.

So admit when you’re wrong and apologize by saying, “I’m sorry. Will you forgive me? I want to understand your feelings, and why you react as you do.”

Sincere words of apology are powerful to your wife. It can heal the whole situation, and you”ll experience harmony once again.

So let her vent her frustrations and hurts, and don’t get angry or close her off. Don’t nurse bitterness, and reassure her of your love. And pray with her after a hurtful time.

Loyalty

“I made an agreement with my eyes. I promised not to look at another woman with sexual longing” (Job 31:1)

Has your wife ever asked you, “How much do you love me? What is it that you love about me? Will you love me when I’m old and gray?” What’s going on here?

Husbands, your wife wants reassurance of your love. Your reassurance energizes her.

Your wife is a one-man woman, committed to you. At times, however, she may wonder if you’re a one-woman man.

It’s easy for your wife to think this since we live in a swimsuit-issue world. She may see you being attracted by a beautiful lady walking by, and take this as a possibility that you may be unfaithful to her.

To be candid, she’s probably insecure in this area and needs reassurance or your commitment, not joking and teasing.

But when your wife sees that you’re trying to make Jesus the Lord of your life in every area, including your marriage, she feels more secure. When she’s assured of your love and loyalty, she gets energized and motivated.

It’s the way God designed her, and it’s why the marriage covenant is based upon loyalty – until death do you part.

So do some self-evaluation. What are you feeling for your wife? Are you being as loyal to her as you could be?

Don’t be critical of her in front of others. Rather, speak highly of her in front of others. Be involved in the things that are important to her.

Esteem

“Her husband also rises up, and he praises her. He says, ‘Many women do noble things. But you are better than all the others'” (Proverbs 31:28-29)

God made your wife so that she wants to be esteemed and honored. To honor your wife, as well as your covenant with God, treasure her.

Your wife will feel treasured when she knows you have her on your mind first and foremost.

So what are practical ways to esteem your wife?

First, remember anniversaries and birthdays. For your wife, there are no more important dates than your anniversary and her birthday, as well as the birthdays of your children. Why?

Because for nine months she carries the baby in her womb and is asked, “When’s the due date?” And since childhood, she dreamed of her wedding day while playing dress-up and singing, “Here comes the bride!”

These dates are opportunities to show her that you esteem her by remembering them, and celebrating them with her.

Lastly, esteem your wife by letting her know you appreciate all that she does and who she is. Give her encouragement and praise, with kindness and enthusiasm.

Men, I hope you feel encouraged, empowered, and inspired to go love your wives!

Darren loves to read, helping people learn different skills that they can use to better their lives. Check out his blog at Gain Business Skills.