By Scott Prater
Courtney Phillips used to despise sitting down with her family’s bills each month.
The Schriever spouse had the sole responsibility for writing checks, balancing accounts and planning with whatever money might be left over. The experience created more stress than she could frequently handle and she knew there had to be a better way.
That’s when she sought assistance from the Schriever Airman and Family Readiness Center.
She met with Christina Stump, A&FRC financial counselor, and learned a few important techniques for improving her budgeting process, which in turn, helped her plan and manage her family’s spending and saving.
Stump said that the financial resources and information available can be so beneficial to couples that she has created a class specific to the topic.
Marriage and Money is offered from 2 to 4 p.m. today at the Schriever A&FRC. Couples are encouraged to attend together, but single Airmen, civilians spouses and family members are also welcome.
“We are doing so much better now financially because of what we learned,” Phillips said. “We now have family budgeting meetings periodically and we’re doing so well that we’ll be buying a home soon.”
In a Money Magazine survey, 84 percent of couples admitted that money is a major cause of tension in their marriage. Respondents said disagreements about sex even took a backseat to finances, and that their financial disputes were more heated and common than those about in laws.
“It’s a common problem in relationships today,” Stump said. “People have different money or financial personalities and that quite often causes rifts and misunderstandings. What we try to do is help people discover their money personality.
Once that happens, they discover their spouse’s money personality, then they can use that to create better communication about family budgeting, spending and saving.”
Understanding that everyone has core values they learn from their upbringing and life experiences helps people understand how others can be free spenders, uber savers or goal-oriented managers, according to Stump.
“From there, we encourage couples to specify and adhere to a weekly budgeting meeting, free from accusation and judgment,” she said. “It’s important for both spouses to be involved in family finances, regardless if one is good at budgeting and one is not, simply because everyone needs to know how much is there and where it is going. People will have much less propensity to overspend if they know the funds aren’t there.”
Phillips said that establishing a family meeting and budget were the toughest parts to work through but that the benefit came through better relationship communication and led to improved family financial management.
“Everything got easier as we went along and now we’re keeping much better track of how and where we spend,” she said.
Stump said that once couples discover their money personalities and learn to accept their partner’s individuality, they begin to find common ground on the financial front, and can begin to make lasting and positive changes in their financial and personal relationship.
In the final portion of the Marriage and Money class, she helps couples create a customized family budget together.
“The ultimate benefit of this class is to help people meet their financial goals as a couple,” Stump said. “When that happens their marriage and financial future are strengthened, hopefully creating a happier and more harmonious life.”
Contact the Schriever A&FRC at 567-3920 for more information.