This week on The Better Apart Blog, we have featured guest expert Tommy Maloney, Tedx speaker, and host of the podcast Blended Family. Tommy shares with his story with divorce, money, and learning to properly manage money as a couple in his second marriage with the help of Dave Ramsey. I know many of us have money on our minds right now, and with everything going on right now, the last thing we want is the added stress of arguing and conflict with a spouse over money. Read on and learn from Tommy’s story and tips on how to work through money matters as a couple.

lOn December 23, 2008, I was officially divorced after a six-year marriage. During those years, I was in the dark as far as the finances went. My former spouse works as a Controller for a commercial real estate company. Because of her job title, I was very intimidated about ever bringing up the topic of money around her. 

During my first marriage, I was told when I could and could not spend money. My coworkers would ask about going out for lunch, and I would come up with an excuse for why I couldn’t go with them. Knowing that my former would see the receipts, I felt it was not worth the arguments, and that so I would always skip on lunches out.  

Life has been way better since the divorce. In 2012 I remarried to a great lady who has two awesome daughters that treat my son just like he is their blood-related brother. My current (and last) wife also came from a very similar marriage when it came to the world of money. She, too, was not privy of the bank accounts.

If you Google “Divorce Rates,” you will be overwhelmed with statistics that might just make your head explode. When you look at the numbers for second and third divorces, you’ll notice the numbers increase. Fortunately, divorce mediation services are an excellent option for many, but still, why do so many third and second marriages fail? The answer may be that if you get divorced one, getting divorced a second or third time may seem like less of a big deal. And if you really dig into the data around divorce, you will find that issues around couples and money are the top reasons for divorce.

Before my wife Ann and I got married, we went to marriage counselling. We did not want to repeat mistakes from each of our first marriages. Those sessions helped open up communication and set us forward on a beautiful path towards our new blended family. Put ego and fear aside, and before you get into a serious relationship or get married, go to a couple’s counsellor. Trust me on this.

Even though I attended a Catholic High School, I would not say I was a believer or a person of faith. I went because I needed discipline when it came to school. When I first moved to Colorado, I had this sense that I wanted to find a church, but it was not until I met Ann that I was able to find a “home.” I mention this as we get into how Dave Ramsey saved my marriage. 

Just like any marriage, Ann and I had our ups and downs. I do mostly contract work, and there were times where money was good and other times where it was, well, not so good. When I couldn’t find a new project, panic from both of us would set in. Ann’s salary at times was able to keep us afloat as I tried to find work. We had the regular bills plus I had child support, and at the end of the year, I had to also get a statement from my former medical cost too. Something needed to change, and it needed to change fast because my debt was taking a toll on our marriage.

One day at church, Ann asked if we could stay and have a few people pray over us. If you feel uncomfortable reading that, imagine how I felt. Well, I sucked it up, and when one of the three ladies asked what we were “praying for,” Ann said, “our marriage.” 

Deciding to Take Charge of Our Money Issues As A Couple

I’m still not sure exactly how we found the Dave Ramsey class in our church, but I sure am glad we did. Neither of us knew quite what to expect. All we knew was that this is what we needed to do for our marriage.

The couple that ran the class was like many of us. They had their financial pain points and they knew they needed to do something to change. 

One of the first decisions Ann and I made was to fix our banking situations. We both had different accounts with different banks. We decided we needed to be a team. Part of the course was to have a weekly budget meeting. We tried to stick to a set schedule, but it didn’t always work. Being able to clearly see how much was in our accounts rather than not knowing who had money to pay bills, however, already began to make our lives a lot easier.

My “day job” consists of me being on the road one-hundred percent of the time. To save money, we ended up selling my car. If I need a vehicle because there are conflicts on the weekends when I am home, I rent a car.

Couples and Money: Communication is Key

The biggest lesson that Ann and I learned was that we should not be scared to talk about money with each other. When it comes to couples and money, the best thing you can do is communicate openly and do your best to form a partnership. We came from horrible marriages where we were not part of a team,  but rather under almost a sort of dictatorship.

One rule we have, that we recommend to all those managing money as a couple, is that if there needs to be a purchase of over $100, talk about it. Recently my son needed a new hockey stick (they are not cheap!), and we looked over our budget together, and there was enough money to cover that purchase. It is important that you and your spouse work with each other and communicate about financial decisions.

To be honest, we have actually taken Dave Ramsey’s class twice because there are things we need to keep learning, as well as the fact that you get great support from your classmates and the teachers running the classes. Understand that yes, the program is faith-based, but please do not let that stop you from applying if you are not religious. Sometimes you need to get out of your own way!

Today our marriage still has “days,” but we are a stronger family, have resolved our couple issues around money, and the best part is that I am still married. So, thanks, Dave!

Tommy Maloney is the Executive producer and host of the podcast Blending The Family, where you can find on Apple Podcasts, IheartRadio, Spotify, and Stitcher Radio. Tommy has spoken at TEDx, Ignite Fort Collins, and Keynote Speaker at Everything Dad Convention. He even has won speaking awards through Toastmasters International. The author of the books “25 Tips For Divorced Dads.” “Why not you, Why Not Me” and His new book, “My Dad’s Advice At 5:04 AM” is coming out in 2020. He has written for magazines: The Good Men Project, Modern Gladiator, and Nurture Magazine. Plus, he has been a guest writer. Tommy enjoys a good red blend while writing or hiding from the family. A dad to Betsy, Becca, Connor, and Duke. A husband to Ann. 

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DISCLAIMER: The commentary, advice, and opinions from Gabrielle Hartley are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice or mental health services. You should contact an attorney and/or mental health professional in your state to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. 


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