When I was growing up, I learned a lot of money lessons through the school of hard knocks.
I received lots of bad money advice growing up, and I mean lots. I remember one time, when I was short on funds in college, my dad even told me to open a credit card so I could afford new clothes.
Eventually, I opened more credit cards and took out student loans to finish school. That might not sound horrible, but the military was paying for my school and I was working 25+ hours a week. I had no business taking out student loans!
By the time I was ready to graduate, I was over $30,000 in debt.
I'm not even sure I realized I was on the path to financial destruction, either.
I was spending more than I made and not really planning for the future at all.
Then, God had this weird way of putting this girl next to me, and Mandy wound up living next door.
All of a sudden, a voice of reason had been brought into my life – a person who could see everything I couldn’t.
One story in particular comes to mind at the beginning of our relationship. Basically, my father was trying to borrow money from me at a time when I didn’t really have it. Of course, Mandy stepped in and said,
“You cannot do this. Your dad loves you, but you’re not helping him when he can’t help himself.”
You see, I didn’t have any money either at the time. I was going down the same path as my dad – almost nothing in my checking account, no savings account, and no emergency fund. Fortunately, my girlfriend was there to help me see the big picture.
And, she was great in that role even once we got married. When I was deployed to Iraq shortly after we were married, I still had some bad money habits. I thought it was okay to put wants on a credit card because we could just pay them off later.
Fortunately, Mandy was like, “No!” We weren’t putting anything on a credit card, she said, because she didn’t want credit card debt.
At the time, it felt restrictive. Looking back, however, I am so thankful for those initial money battles we had. Talk about God putting the right woman in my life at the right time.
Even better, all of my early experiences with money led me to become a financial planner. By the grace of God, I learned what I needed to do and the many ways I could serve others.
Once I started on the path towards becoming a financial planner, I also made sure my own financial house was in order. With help from Mandy, we implemented a lot of changes in terms of our finances and our marriage. We built up our emergency fund. We started new savings accounts. We created short-term goals and long-term financial goals, and we started having regular money conversations. We also learned to invest heavily for retirement with the goal of becoming financially independent.
We’re very fortunate now, and dare I say “wealthy,” but it definitely took time to get here. Our success can be attributed to both God and hard work, and I’m so incredibly thankful for every minute and every lesson I learned the hard way.
7 Principles of a Wealthy Marriage™
Still, if I have learned anything at all, it’s that there are several core principles that define a Wealthy Marriage™. By and large, it’s these principles that have helped us grow our marriage, become closer as a couple, and become financially independent over time.
If you want to level up your marriage romantically, spiritually, and financially, these are the core principles I suggest you focus on. By knocking all of these out, you can become a wealthy couple together – in more than one way.
Principle #1: The Confident Marriage Ticket
The #1 principle that helps Wealthy Marriages™ grow and thrive is the confident marriage ticket. This ticket includes everything a marriage needs to be wealthy and successful – a full commitment from both parties, the courage to make it work no matter what, capabilities that grow and complement one another, a sense of community, and the confidence to see your marriage through. But, where does it start? It all starts with a thorough commitment to your marriage and one another.
It’s easy to commit to someone at the beginning of your relationship when kids and careers aren't really getting in the way. When life gets complicated, however, watch out. It can be difficult to stay committed when your entire life becomes infinitely harder than it used to be.
To become a wealthy couple with a spiritual commitment to one another, you have to commit to your marriage through both the good times and the bad. You can’t be a fair weather friend, nor can you be someone who only shows up half the time.
I have to say, it's commitment that helps couples weather than hard times more than anything else. When you're truly committed to one another, nothing can truly come between you even during the worst of times.
When I think of the courage it takes to have a wealthy marriage, I immediately think to when we had our first son. You can read all the baby books you want all day long, watch videos on YouTube, and talk to your friends with kids, but nothing can prepare you for the way it feels when you bring a baby home for the first time.
You’ve already committed to your marriage and raising this child, but now you need courage to hold it together during hard times. You also gain the courage to learn as you go, because the bulk of parenting is learned on the fly.
The same is true with your marriage. You may not know how everything will work out all the time, but you need the courage and willingness to learn and grow. Courage will bring you through hard times just as often as it helps you enjoy the good times.
Capabilities come into play once you fall into a routine with your spouse. You’ve learned what your partner likes and doesn’t like, and you’ve found ways to serve them that keep both of you happy most of the time.
At this point, your capabilities are what help you cope with conflict in a healthy and helpful way. Remember, commitment brought you together for the long haul and courage has helped you stay together during hard times.
From here, your capabilities are talents you nurture that help your marriage thrive. You capabilities can include comforting your spouse when they’re down, encouraging them to be the best they can be, or simply helping out at all the right times.
Once you become capable in your marriage, you’ll also become confident. Over time, the confidence you exude will make your marriage run that much smoother. Eventually, you'll even become confident in your ability to become wealthy – both spiritually and financially.
Principle #2: The Marriage Gap
The second important principle for married couples is the importance of knowing and understanding “The Marriage Gap.” This is a term we use to describe the difference between your ideal marriage or “Cinderella story” and the reality of your marriage and the maintenance of your relationship.
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Many couples get caught up in how their marriage used to be before they had kids, a house, and a ton of responsibilities. As a spouse, however, you have to realize the person you married many years ago isn’t the same as they once were. Just like life has changed you, it has changed them as well. Together, you have grown and matured over time.
Today might not be the best day your marriage has ever seen, but that's okay. Why? You're focusing on the long haul – the big picture. You have a lifetime to spend together, right? When you see the marriage gap for what it is, you realize the little bumps in the road have nothing to do with your long-term goals as a couple and as a family.
Principle #3: The Connected Vision
Once you have a good concept of how to create the Confident Marriage Ticket and an understanding of how your marriage may not always stack up to reality, it's time to focus on the third component of a Wealthy Marriage™ – The Connected Vision.
This is where you and your spouse will really come together to communicate and share your hopes and dreams. Part of the connected vision is just talking to one another all the time, and keeping those lines of communication open. But that's not all; my wife and I firmly believe that certain habits we call “The Love Habits” can also make your marriage happier and wealthier.
Love Habits can look different for everyone, but we're talking about the sweet and loving habits you implement with your spouse over time. These love habits are something you should try to do every day, mostly to promote a “team philosophy” and to share life's ups and downs with one another.
One love habit to consider is sharing your “daily wins” with one another each evening. What went right for you today? And how did it make you feel?
Other love habits to implement can and should be the physical kind. Hugging one another, kissing, and showing physical attention are great ways to show one another you care and are in your marriage for the long haul. Trust us, it's much easier to stay connected when you're intentional about it and when you have healthy love habits that keep you close no matter what.
Principle #4: The Wealthy Money Beliefs
Far too many people assume building real wealth requires a ton of money. The reality is, when you really look at people who are wealthy, many work regular jobs and earn modest incomes.
These people didn’t become wealthy through some magical formula; instead, they built their wealth using solid financial principles.
One of those principles is contentment – as in, being content with what you have. Contentment is so powerful and yet so simple that it often derails people. It’s so easy to want to buy that new dress, a new pair of shoes, a new car, or that bigger house, but being content means knowing you don’t need them.
The second money value you should master as a couple is staying on top of your own finances. This means knowing where your money is going – either by budgeting or tracking your spending.
If you hate the idea of budgeting, I encourage you to give it a second look. Most people are wasting money on things they don’t even care about, and a budget can help you identify those budget drains. Once you start budgeting, you learn to identify the waste in your life and allocate those funds to financial goals that actually matter.
Remember, becoming a wealthy couple means learning positive money habits. Over time, the small money moves you make together will add up in a huge way.
Principle #5: The Growth Commitment
To build wealth, you must become comfortable investing in a financial sense but also in yourself. This mean investing in savings accounts, money markets, CDs, your 401(k), and the stock market, but also investing in your own personal development and your growth as a couple.
For some people, investing in personal development means going back to school to earn a MBA, taking a course or higher level certification, or hiring a business coach, a life coach, or a consultant to help get your career and your life on track.
For wealthy couples, investing should become automatic. Wealthy couples tend to have their financial investments on autopilot so they can reach their long-term financial goals. Wealthy couples also learn to encourage each other’s personal development and investment in themselves.
As you grow and mature as a person, your marriage will inevitably do the same. That’s why it’s important to dedicate your life to growing together as a couple. Not only should you strive to grow within your marriage, but you should allow your faith, your career goals, and your knowledge to grow and expand over time as well.
Remember, the better each of you becomes individually, the stronger you'll be as a married couple. With both of you shooting for new heights on your own, you're bound to become one powerful force.
Principle #6: The Legacy Shift
While growing a Wealthy Marriage™ is rewarding on its own, it’s crucial to pass down the core values you share to your family members along the way. By giving your kids the same values you have nurtured as a couple, you can help them with their own personal development as well. And by delivering your core values to your children, you help them reach the same level of fulfillment and success in their own lives.
Hopefully, they’ll pass the same lessons on to their kids as well. In that sense, the work you do on your marriage now could literally last for generations or more. Just remember, it all starts with you and your spouse and the changes you make today.
Principle #7: The Radical Impact
Once you have achieved true wealth as a couple, you can really appreciate all the hard work success requires. The thing is, this is where giving becomes so much fun.
One of the hardest things I had to get over personally was the idea that making more money would ruin me. For some reason, I had this idea it would change who I was as a person. However, I actually learned the opposite over time. Not only did becoming wealthier not change who I was, but it helped me become a better version of myself. I reached that conclusion when I realized the huge impact my wealth could make on others.
As a wealthy couple, it’s important to embrace the idea of radical giving – whether that’s to your church or some other causes you truly believe in. By giving back to causes you and your spouse find important, you can find a greater purpose for your work and your lives. As an added bonus, radical giving can bring you together as a couple in ways you wouldn't believe!
Morphing into a wealthy couple doesn't happen overnight. Most of the time, it takes years to realize the kind of couple you want to be and conform your lifestyle to achieve those goals. Marriage was never meant to be easy, but it's much more rewarding when you're both on the same team.
Still, becoming a wealthy couple is just like anything else. The sooner you get started, the better off you'll be.
For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, you have to remember you're in this together. Once adopt these important principles, you can focus on becoming the best married couple you can be.