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This is it.
The lights are turned down low and a few candles throw shadows across the room. A quiet, gentle tune wafts through the air. Fresh flowers are sweetly arranged in a vase on the counter. The kids are at the neighbor’s house for a sleepover. Your spouse gently brushes your cheek and pulls you close. You can feel your heartbeat in your chest as your spouse leans over and whispers quietly into your ear:
“Let’s talk about the budget, baby.”
Wait. Do what now? Back the love truck up. Pump the brakes there, Romeo.
If military couples were asked how they describe their money and finances, odds are they wouldn’t answer with the word “romantic.” Sure, money management might not make the top ten list of romantic gifts where you’ll usually find a huge box of chocolates (one that doesn’t include any of those funky orange or strawberry creamed-filled ones), a foot massage, or a seven-day stay at an all-inclusive resort. But, managing money within your military marriage can have a big impact on relationship success and satisfaction.
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day and all things love, cupid, and February, let’s chat about money, your military marriage, and how finances can have either a positive or negative impact on your relationship.
The team over at First Command Financial Services and Banking has racked their romantic, financially-savvy brains to bring you these money management tips for your relationship that will be sure to leave you amorous and starry-eyed.
Communication is key to helping both partners feel heard and respected.
That’s right! When it doubt, talk it out! Establishing and then communicating expectations will help you nail the marriage money talk. This is especially important for military couples, since it seems as if we are always facing some kind of big life event that might impact our financial status. Discussing things like deployment, TDY, that upcoming PCS, job change, and the like will keep your finances flirty and fabulous.
Schedule regular sit-downs with your spouse to review your budget, your cash flow, and your financial goals.
This is closely related to tip #1. As often as you can, create a set time to go over all things money in your relationship. This could be bi-monthly (with each paycheck), one time per month, or even once per quarter, especially if frequent military travels keep you separated by duty. Think about what your financial future might look like beyond those military boots when it is time to ETS or retire. Fantasize about your future post-military financial fairy tale (and all the Valentine’s Days and anniversaries you will be spending together!).
Make sure you both remain open and honest.
Consider these meetings a safe space where you can float ideas and come to a consensus on goals and behaviors. And hey—what if you make it fun and freshen it up? Maybe it would be a great excuse for you and your service member to have regular dates where you talk a little bit of business (such as reviewing your finances and making any necessary adjustments) while you also have a chance to connect, plan, and dream together. Write a new chapter in your love story using numbers on a spreadsheet, or court one another while reviewing your checking account.
Don’t be afraid to get outside help and support.
Sure, some couples might be ready to start communicating openly about money management within their military marriage. They are the Romeo and Juliet of the money relationship world (only without the dramatic and rather tragic ending—yikes!) But for others, discussing finances might be a tender subject, and some couples might benefit from an objective third party, like a financial planner, to help facilitate these discussions. Let someone else help you keep your military marriage money discussion charming, sweet and maybe even lovey-dovey.
So go ahead. Turn down the lights, crack open a bottle of bubbly, send the kids next door. Snuggle close to your beloved one, open your computer, and pull up your color-coded budgeting spreadsheet (or whatever financial planning system you use). Let First Command help you to continue writing your military love story through proper money management with your military marriage.