Dealing With Financial Stressors in Your Marriage Due to the Coronavirus

Dealing With Financial Stressors in Your Marriage Due to the Coronavirus

The widespread Coronavirus is attacking more than just our physical health these days, and the economy has been suffering a severe impact ever since. With companies being required to layoff employees, and stock prices dropping, a majority of families are likely to see a decrease in their household income.  Many studies have analyzed the impact of finances on relationships, and almost all list financial stressors as a top reason for couples splitting apart.  The key to avoiding this problem, is being proactive.  Below are tips to navigating through the current economic crisis, from an emotional perspective, and a financial one, and tips on how to maximize your finances with minimal changes.

Mentally and Emotionally Preparing for Change

First, emotionally and mentally, things are going to change.  Part of getting over the stress of the economic crisis is for you and your spouse learn to accept where the economy is at and accept that habits are going to have to change.  It isn’t ideal, but nearly every person is going to be impacted by the state of the economy right now.  So, as uncomfortable as it may be, we need to accept the situation for what it is, at least for the time being.   This doesn’t mean that anyone should panic, but it does mean that we should all plan.  When talking to your spouse about financial stressors, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Be open, and patient, and remember that none of this is going to be personal, no matter how hard some things are to hear.
  • Do not try to convince one another that nothing needs to change in order to appease one another—it isn’t realistic, and it will set both parties up for disappointment.
  • Be careful to not get into the habit of blaming one another for the situation. This dip in the economy was not within anyone’s control.  If you have concerns about how the marital money is handled, now is not the time to reprimand anyone.  However, it is a good time to discuss how to move forward.
  • Accept your spouses emotional concerns, and realize that usually any signs of anger or stress due to limited finances, are likely rooted in other feelings (i.e., feeling disappointed for not saving more, feeling guilty for possible overspending, being scared of potential consequences), and be ready to talk through some of these feelings.

Financially Preparing for Change

Secondly, emotions are just one part, and communication is key.  However, to overcome the current hardships, change has to occur, and planning has to occur.  Below are some tips for little, everyday changes that can make to ease some of the stress.

  • Learn to really prioritize. There are a lot of ‘wants’ that are being cut out of our daily lives—whether that’s spa visits, sporting events, concerts, etc. However, it is still important to spend time figuring out where you as a couple can cut back.
  • Look to set a new budget. There are great Apps out, that help people manage their money. Mint is a great one. It allows people to view and organize all their accounts at once, and set budgets, as well as financial goals. Mint will send notifications when you exceed your budget and can be a great way for couples to stay on track with their financial plans and goals, without making you feel like you have to constantly remind your spouse about spending habits (the app will do it for you). Best part- it is free!
  • When creating a new budget or plan, be realistic. As stated above, setting unrealistic budgets or goals can lead to disappointment and tension. Instead, be honest about what your non-negotiables are, and what you are and are not willing to budge on.  Then, figure out how to cut back in other areas, to make it work.  Do not make a commitment that you know you cannot stick to.
  • Most importantly, do not be afraid to ask for professional help. As of now, banks are open, and do have professionals who can help you plan for now and for the future. There are also a number of financial planners and wealth management experts out there, who can help you organize your finances better, and create a financial plan for your family. Do not be afraid to ask for help, you are not in this alone.

Make the Most of Your Resources

Lastly, make your money work for you!

Reward Memberships and Points: Now is the time to take advantage of reward memberships and programs that many companies offer.  Be sure to check online, because you may have been accruing points without even realizing it.  Below is a small list of ways to earn money while you shop, as well as get cash back and earn rewards.

  • Honey: You can download Honey onto your internet browser at home in order to save money and earn reward points. Click the Honey icon at check out, and it will run all the available discount codes to your purchase. In addition, you can earn ‘Honey Gold’ while you shop online, which converts into gift cards for online retailers. (Click here for more)
  • Fetch: Fetch, allows you to earn rewards from everyday stores, buy taking pictures of your recent receipts and earning points. Download the app on your phone and start earning gift cards to local and online retailers, by earning points on purchases. (Click here for more)
  • GetUpside: GetUpside allows you to earn money buy getting gas at specific gas stations. Download the app, and see which location has the best offers. Gas stations will offer anywhere from one to ten cents back per gallon of gas, which will be sent to you by check. Although this may take slightly longer to accrue, it is an easy way to save money, while also getting a small benefit, without having to make any big alterations to your daily routine. (Click here for more)
  • Other Retailers: Don’t forget about other online retailers. Some stores may have online rewards programs you didn’t even know about. Companies such as Nordstrom, Pottery Barn, Dicks, Petco, and so many more, have rewards programs that allow you to earn money back to spend, and accrue ‘notes’ in your customer account. This is the time to take advantage of those rewards. (Click here for a short list of retailers with rewards programs)

Gift Cards: There is no better time than now, to go through all those gift cards that you got during the holidays, or for your birthday, that somehow always seem to end up in your family’s “junk drawer.”  Whether it is a restaurant gift card that you can use for eating out, a Target gift card for supplies or projects for your kids, find a way to use your gift cards to save spending the cash in your bank account, and  finally put them to good use.

Credit Card Rewards: Most people use their credit card rewards for travel, which is great.  However, traveling isn’t the top priority for many people right now, and many people forget about all of the other great rewards available to credit card holders.  Look online to see what rewards you can redeem.  Many credit card companies offer discounts to certain stores, or double points earned on specific products. In addition, these points can be exchanged often, for gift cards to a number of retailers.  Figure out a way to let your money work for you.

Consider Maximizing Larger Assets: If you have a second home or property, consider renting it out, if possible (be sure to check with local laws).  Or if you are not in need of two cars in your household, consider renting it out on an app like Turo.  There are ways to earn money, while not altering your daily routine too much.  Consider looking into options such as these to continue to maximize the value of your current assets.

Although for many this economic crisis has extended beyond a reduction in household income, to affecting retirement accounts, savings plans, and more, we urge spouses and families to stay positive in this difficult time and know that this too shall pass. The tips above are only a handful of the many ways that you can reduce some of the stress that the coronavirus outbreak has had on your family’s finances. Regardless of your family’s situation, sitting down, and being transparent with your partner is key to reducing stress and tension