The Money Disruptors
Art Rainer, author of "The Marriage Challenge: A Finance Guide for Married Couples," talks about four different money personalities in marriage: the saver, spender, investor, and ignorer. He explains how to talk about money before and after marriage, including how to address bad money habits, like hiding purchases, that can derail a marriage.
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Art Rainer talks about four different money personalities in marriage: the saver, spender, investor, and ignorer. He explains how bad money habits can derail a marriage.
The Money Disruptors
Bob: Do you and your spouse have separate bank accounts? Do you keep your money separated? Art Rainer says there may be a reason why that’s necessary for some couples; but in general, it’s a bad idea.
Art: There’s a big shift that should occur when you get married. It’s no longer “my money” or “my bank account”; but “our money”/“our bank account.” If we’re saying that God’s design for our marriages is to be one—you look at Genesis 2:24: they’re to be one. You go to, then, 1 Corinthians 7:4: Paul says that not even their own bodies are their own anymore. If our own bodies are not our own, then should our bank accounts be?
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, November 12th. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I'm Bob Lepine. The way we handle our money in marriage can either promote oneness or can push us toward isolation. We’re going to spend time talking about that today with Art Rainer. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. Did you ever have actual envelopes, where you divided up the money and put some in one envelope; some in another envelope?
Dave: Ann is over there, laughing.
Bob: She’s laughing again. What’s going on?
Dave: I think I know why. I want to hear her say it. [Laughter]
Ann: No, go ahead.
Dave: Go ahead.
Ann: What are you going to say?
Dave: I don’t know; I’m going to let you go.
Ann: I’ll answer that. We always wanted to. [Laughter]
Dave: That’s what I thought. [Laughter]
Ann: We sat in with Dave Ramsey—we’re like, “Yes, yes! We’re going to do this,” and then we never did, but we needed to.
Dave: We do it in a different way, Bob; it’s basically an envelope.
Bob: Our kids had envelopes.
Bob: As we were raising them, we’d use the: “Here’s your allowance. You get $10; so $1 goes here,” and “$1 goes here. You’ve got the other $8.” We used that with them. We were more sophisticated than envelopes for ourselves, that we were able to divide it up and know what our allocations needed to be.
The envelope idea/to have mental envelopes is not a bad thing for a married couple as they start to think about, “Okay; here’s the paycheck.”
Ann: It’s worked for a lot of couples, at least, in the beginning in getting their minds straight and getting their head around it.
Dave: We know many couples who still do that. One of the greatest things about it is that it forces you to communicate about money.
Bob: When it comes to money, communication may be one of the biggest reasons why there are money in marriage problems—not money.
Ann: —especially when the money in the envelope runs out.
Bob: That’s right. [Laughter]
Art Rainer is joining us this week on FamilyLife Today. Art, welcome back.
Art: Thank you for having me.
Bob: Art is the vice president of Institutional Advancement at Southeastern Baptist Seminary in Wake Forest. He’s got an MBA. He’s written a book called The Marriage Challenge. Actually, you wrote The Money Challenge first; right?
Art: That’s correct; yes.
Bob: That’s all about money and how we use it. The Marriage Challenge really takes those principles and talks about the relational tensions that can happen around money.
Art: It places it in the context of the marriage.
Bob: The thing I love about the book—you give couples a game plan. You say: “Here’s Step One,” “Here’s Step Two,” “Here’s Step Three,” “Here’s how you get on track. It may take you awhile to get to Step Four, Five, and Six; but that’s okay. Just stay with the steps.”
Then you talk about how couples get sabotaged and what the problems are. Communication is one of those issues that—couples don’t have money problems; they have communication problems; right?
Art: Yes; usually when you hear of a couple, who divorces because of financial issues—they say that finance is the reason why they separated—that was more of a symptom of something that was going on in their marriage. Usually, there’s an underlying symptom that manifests itself in their finances. Certainly, finances can cause stress; but more than likely, when a divorce happens, there’s probably something else that was under there. Communication, and lack of communication, is absolutely one of those issues that you often see.
Ann: I remember the two of us—if I would overspend, I would think: “What’s the problem? I apologized; why are you so upset?” What I realized—Dave felt disrespected by me not adhering to our plan, which, to me, it was like: “I respect you. I just want to spend more money.”
Dave: We definitely were weak in communication. I was the guy who didn’t want to talk about it. I wanted to talk about it; but I really didn’t, because I felt stress and anxiety. When you talk about it, it’s all there.
I remember one time, sitting in Moby Gym, at a Campus Crusade staff training—we were on staff with Cru® at the time—some missionary’s on the stage, and they asked for money. We had little cards; I write down a number. They said: “Pray and ask God; write down a number; send it in.” Never looked at Ann/never talked to her about it; I make a pledge as much as is in our savings account.
Dave: We’re talking $3,000; it wasn’t a lot of money.
Bob: That’s a lot of money to not talk to your wife about what you’re doing with it.
Dave: Guess what happened after that little meeting? After we’re done, she goes, “What do you think?” I go: “I’m sure you thought the same thing. I gave our savings account.” She’s like, “What??!!” So, there we were—newlywed couple, nobody had taught us anything about money. One of the first things: “Talk!”
Art: Absolutely; talk/communicate about money. Also, what I’m hearing is the need to understand each other’s money personality.
Ann: Yes; to go deeper into it; you’re right.
Art: That’s absolutely right. When you marry your spouse, they’re likely to have a different money personality than you. In The Marriage Challenge I have four different types of money personalities: you have the Saver—
Dave: That’s the right one; that’s the right one. [Laughter]
Bob: Right—the biblical one.
Art: —I’m going to get to that, you know. [Laughter] You have the Spender; you have the Investor; and you also have the Ignorer.
As you mentioned, the Saver often gets the praise; right? They’re the ones that everybody says, “Well, they are the ones that have everything together.”
Ann: I wasn’t praising Dave about that. [Laughter]
Art: It’s the Spender that often gets the bad rep; right? They’re the ones that you often say, “Ahh! I can’t believe—they’re just the Spender.” It’s important to understand that, regardless of your money personality/regardless of your spouse’s money personality—there’s strengths, and there’s weaknesses.
For the Saver, your strength is you like to save money. That’s a good thing; you like to set aside money for retirement—that’s a really good thing to do.
Ann: It is a good thing.
Art: The downside is that, if you go on a vacation, you’re opting for the tent as opposed to a hotel. It’s not because you can’t afford a hotel; it’s because you save money by going with the tent option.
Dave: Did you say, “Go on a vacation?” [Laughter]
Art: I made some assumptions there. [Laughter]
For the Spender—the negative that is often pointed out is that they’re quick to swipe the credit card. They’re likely to spend money without asking the other spouse—that’s a negative; that’s not good. At the same time, the Spender is the one who often thinks of others first; they’re the ones who are more likely to buy gifts for other people.
Ann: That’s the true spender that I am; it’s not on myself. I want to buy for other people.
Art: That’s a good thing, as long as it’s within the context of the budget. You’re [Ann] probably thinking about it more than you [Dave] are.
Dave: Hey, watch it!
Art: I’m not saying that you don’t love people; it’s just your money personality.
The Investor likes to take risks—that can be good and bad; they’re willing to invest for retirement. They’re not scared of stocks, and mutual funds, and these types of investments. However, they can be a little bit too risky at times; that’s the downside.
The Ignorer—the positive is that they’re not really phased by money; that doesn’t really bother them. The downside is they’re often detached from the actual financial dealings of the house—what’s actually going on. They don’t know whether they’re in a financially healthy spot or not.
Dave: Where do you think these patterns come from?—are they nurture?—nature?—is it what you grew up in?—is it the way you’re wired?
Art: A little bit of both. You have what’s called your “money story”; right?—how you learned about money. That’s derived, in part, from your upbringing/your experience with your own family. You also have, sometimes, generational effects. In 2008, that had a big impact on Millennials and how they thought about investing. They were somewhat delayed for awhile because they were fearful. They watched their parents lose massive amounts of money in their retirement accounts and, even, jobs; and so, they’re hesitant to invest.
When you look at the Depression Era—if you know somebody from the Depression Era, or if you have known somebody from the Depression Era—likely, they were pretty frugal. It’s because they went through a very difficult point in our nation, when the unemployment rate was at 25 percent. Those had a major impact on how they viewed money/how they managed money.
Then, of course, you have your natural personality. It’s a combination of those things that develop your money personality.
Dave: It’s interesting—as you talk about marriage dividers—one of them being this communication thing—talk about how a married couple should talk about this very thing before marriage/in marriage. We never had a discussion about money before we got married. How naïve is that? Talk about how we communicate about money as a married couple.
Art: It starts with simply the words that you use and how you describe the finances in your home. There’s a big shift that should occur when you get married. It’s no longer “my money” or “my bank account”; but “our money”/“our bank account.”
Ann: So, every married couple should join their accounts.
Art: Yes, that’s something that I’m a pretty big proponent of. I like the idea of joint accounts because of what it brings to the marriage. As I’ve dealt with couples that are in pre-marital classes, that’s often a big surprise: “So, you’re saying I shouldn’t have my own account?”
Ann: I think, even for blended families, that can even be a bigger situation.
Art: Absolutely; I understand that. But if we’re saying that God’s design for our marriages is to be one—Genesis 2:24: they’re to be one. You go to, then,
1 Corinthians 7:4: Paul says that not even their own bodies are their own anymore. If our own bodies are not our own, then should our bank accounts be?
I understand there are accounts out there, like your retirement accounts, where you can literally have only one person on the account. In that situation, I would say, “Make sure that your spouse has the user ID and password—that they have access to it.”
Try to be as unified in your finances as possible. It goes back to changing the language and the way we think about money; so when you’re communicating, it’s no longer “my money”; it’s no longer “my paycheck”; but it’s “our money”/“our paycheck.” At the same time, it’s no longer “your expenditures.” You’re not saying, “You spent this; this is your expenditure,” but it’s ours because, when you’re married, expenditures don’t happen in a vacuum. They affect one another, so it truly is our expenditure.
Dave: That’s a good question. I’m out on my own, and Ann’s at home; and I want to buy a pair of shoes. What do you tell a married couple? How much communication? Do I check with her to buy a $50 pair of shoes? Or do I only check with her when I want to buy a $15,000 motorcycle? Which one—
Art: I’m going to provide a very clear answer on that one: “It depends.
Bob: There you go.
Art: “It’s going to depend on how you all/on what you all decide as a couple.” Is $50—is that the limit? Is $15,000 the limit? I doubt it would be $15,000; but “Is there a limit, where you all are comfortable?—saying, ‘If there is a purchase under $40, I am fine; we can do that.’” It goes back to communication. That conversation has to happen. You have to sit down and figure out: “What is that amount for us?” because it’s going to vary from couple to couple.
Bob: This communication presupposes that we’ve got some basic principles, where we’re in alignment and in agreement. I think, a lot of times, you’re not having good communication because, when you try to communicate, you’ve got clashing presuppositions—not just personalities—but clashing priorities or clashing—like one person says, “I started an IRA when I’m 16,”—like you did.
Art: I’m weird; I know. [Laughter]
Bob: Saving for retirement is a big deal. The other partner is looking and going, “We’re putting money in a retirement account; and the kids can’t have a new pair of shoes to go to school with because we want to save money for retirement?” Can we look at them and say, “He’s right; she’s wrong,” “She’s right”? We have to figure out how to get to oneness around these priorities.
Art: One of the tools that I provide in The Marriage Challenge are the eight money milestones. Wherever you are on your financial journey, these eight money milestones can provide some clarity for what steps need to be taken in your finances as you pursue financial health for the sake—and I always want to make sure we put this in there—for the sake of advancing God’s kingdom/for the sake of living and giving generously. That’s why we pursue financial health.
Those eight money milestones are in there. They really guide a good section of the book to, hopefully, provide clarity.
Bob: That’s really the heart of the book.
Art: That’s right.
Bob: As we’re dealing with the obstacles to financial oneness and things like communication being a trip wire, we’re really jumping past the heart of the book to say: “Let’s talk about where couples find discord.” Communication is not the only place. One of the things that’s a big issue here is selfishness: “I want what I want,” and “I earned that money,” or “I deserve that money,” or “You got your thing, so I should get my thing.”
Dave: That’s a big one—not for me—but for most other people, who are selfish. [Laughter]
Ann: Art, you even say in your book that you didn’t realize how “me-centric” you were until you got married. How did you discover that?
Art: Well, pre-marriage: it was all about me. I’m the only one I had to concern myself about. With my finances, I was taking care of myself and nobody else. Now, I have my spouse; I have Sarah. I have to think about somebody else, not just with finances, but in every aspect of life, whether it’s even just scheduling a trip/going out of town. I need to check with her first; I did not have to do that before.
My eyes were opened quickly to see how selfish I was because my world revolved around me. I am going to say that now that we have three kids, I really understood how selfish I was. Marriage opens your eyes to see how selfish you were.
Dave: I can honestly remember—I mean, this is decades ago—standing in a sporting goods store, looking at a pair of Nikes that I so badly wanted, and having three boys at home, knowing: “I can’t buy these. I can, and be the most selfish jerk in the world. I need to take the money I would spend on those and spend it on my kids.” It was a hard decision.
I know some people don’t make that decision, and they don’t even communicate about it. You’ve got selfishness and communication destroying their marriage; right?
Ann: That was nice of you to do that. [Laughter]
Dave: I got them a different way. [Laughter]
Ann: But you have some signs of our selfishness: “You don’t compromise; you blame. You take the ‘It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission,’ approach; you hide purchases.” There are some real signs of selfishness.
Bob: Hiding purchases—I’m going to bust myself here. I went to the grocery store one time. I came back and Mary Ann said, “What did you get at the grocery store?” I told her some of what I had gotten at the grocery store; right? [Laughter] I did not tell her a lie; I just didn’t tell her the whole truth; right? What I had forgotten was that the grocery store had started printing out, on the receipt, itemized descriptions of what you bought. [Laughter] She found the receipt—she said: “Where are the Doritos®? You didn’t tell me you got Doritos. And ice cream?—you got ice cream, too?”
Here’s what I learned from that: It’s not an issue of whether I can buy Doritos if I want Doritos or not. I had just sown seeds of distrust by not being disclosing with my wife. When she said, “What did you get?” I said, “I got oranges,” and “I got this,” and “I got that.” I just left off the Doritos and the ice cream. I had just sown seeds of distrust. Now, the next time she says, “What did you do? Where did you go?” she’s wondering: “What’s he not telling me?”
This issue of building trust around money—this may be the biggest hidden explosive in a marriage. When one of you is not being disclosing—when you are doing what your [Ann’s] mom did: “Don’t tell Dad about what we bought,” that’s toxic, not just for your money; that’s toxic for every part of your relationship.
Art: In The Marriage Challenge, there’s a fictional story that goes along with what I call the core content. In the story, you have Chris, who gets really upset over some undisclosed debt that his wife Claire has brought into the marriage. They’re newlyweds; they’re on their honeymoon. Then he finds this out. For those who are going to read the book, I’m not going to spoil it; right?
But the reason why Chris is so upset about the loans—it’s not that he’s/he’s somewhat scared for the financial future—he’s also concerned for their marriage; because of what that type of thing did to his brother, who is now divorced. It became a trust issue; it was all about trust once it manifested itself in the finances; but there was actually an underlying issue there, and that was distrust. He was concerned about that.
Dave: What do you say to the listener, who, right now is listening and going: “Should I tell my husband?” “Should I tell my wife? I’ve got something that I haven’t…”—maybe it’s bigger than Doritos.
Art: It likely is—if there’s something hidden, it’s likely bigger than Doritos.
Dave: What should they do?
Art: You should tell. You have to be forthright with this information. It’s the only way reconciliation can happen; because it is going to show up at some point, whether it’s with that particular purchase or another purchase in the future. It’s going to reveal itself; it is going be ugly and can be disastrous in a marriage. It’s wrong, in general, to hide these from your spouse; but eventually, something’s going to happen to where it will come to a head/it will come to light. The result’s going to be disastrous.
Dave: Yes; in a sense, Jesus—I mean, it reminds me of Jesus’s words: “What you do in the dark will be broadcast at some point”—whether it’s financial, sexual—anything done in the dark, as long as it stays in the dark, can destroy you. Obviously, we’re talking about money; but it could be anything.
I would say/here is what I would say: “Because the fear of exposing this to my spouse or to anyone is: ‘Honestly, I can’t trust God,’—when you are bringing it into the light, you’re not saying, ‘I’m going to trust my spouse’; because they may not respond in a great way—but there is a God, who even through that exposure, will meet you through that. It will be the best thing you ever do. Today could be the day for somebody to say, ‘Okay; I’ve got to come clean,’—whether it’s money; whether it’s porn; you name it—‘Today is the day I’m bringing it into the light. I’m going to trust God’s going to meet us.’ It may be a little messy for awhile, but He’ll eventually meet you right there.”
Ann: There’s a freedom that comes in that, because that secret’s heavy to carry.
Bob: Yes; I’m thinking a couple may need to have a conversation, where they go:
“Okay; let’s just ask ourselves: ‘Is our communication healthy when it comes to issues of money,’ or ‘Are we dodging each other? Are we avoiding these conversations?’”
“When we have the conversations, are we teammates? Or are we adversaries around these conversations?” and “How can we become teammates?”
“How can we not accuse or polarize ourselves from one another?” and “Is there any reason we don’t trust one another?” and “Are we hiding anything?” and “Why do we hide things? What’s behind that; what’s the motive there?” and “How can we safely bring these things out into the open so that there doesn’t have to be hiding?”
And then my selfishness—I mean, “Let’s acknowledge this is bone-deep in all of us—we are predisposed/prewired toward being selfish.” Even those who would say, “Well, I’m not spending money on me; I’m spending money on other people.” The reason you’re spending money on other people is because you feel better when you’re doing nice things for other people. There’s still a selfishness motive that can be at the heart of that.
Let’s expose some of these things. Let’s have the conversation, where we address these things so that we can start to get healthy in how we begin to pursue oneness around money.
Dave: You know, it’s interesting on the back of Art’s book, it says: “God has a plan for your marriage and your money. It starts with a challenge. Will you accept?” I was just listening to you, Bob, thinking, “There’s the challenge.”
Bob: That’s the challenge.
Ann: It could be a great night—it could be a date night that you talk: “Tonight’s theme is money.”
Bob: It could be a really dangerous night is what it could be; yes.
Bob: But if you want to get healthy, sometimes you have to go to hard places.
Bob: Art, you line out these challenges in one section in the book. I’d encourage a couple to get a copy of the book and say: “Let’s read through the chapter together and, then, let’s just be honest with one another. Can we trust one another? Can we have this kind of healthy communication so that we can get where we want to go? The place we want to go is a place, where we’re handling our money in a way that honors God/that advances His kingdom, and that takes care of the needs we have in this life.”
We have copies of Art’s book, The Marriage Challenge, in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can go online at FamilyLifeToday.com to order a copy, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com. The name of the book is The Marriage Challenge by Art Rainer. You can also order the book by calling 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
We’ve talked about how this issue of money in marriage can be one of the dividing points; it’s one of the things that causes couples to isolate from one another. It can be an area of tension in marriage. Our goal, here, at FamilyLife® is to do everything we can do to effectively develop godly marriages and families, where there is healthy communication, where couples can be on the same page when it comes to issues like this, and where we can bring help and hope into a couple’s marriage and help effectively develop that couple. We believe that godly marriages and godly families can change the world.
That’s the mission, here, at FamilyLife. You, as a listener, make that mission possible when you help support the work of this ministry, financially, when you become a giver to FamilyLife. Some of you have given in the past; some of you are monthly Legacy Partners. We are grateful for the partnership we have with many of our listeners.
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We hope you can join us, again, tomorrow. Art Rainer will be here to continue our conversation about marriage, and money, and oneness; and how we can come together, as husband and wife, and manage our money well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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