If you’re new to mixing marriage and finances, don’t fret. Talking about your income and money goals is all a part of having healthy communication with your spouse.
Still, the topic clearly isn’t for everyone. Studies show that couples would rather talk about their weight than discuss their finances. Why? Some feel that financial management in marriage can be awkward, uncomfortable, and may cause conflict.
Fighting about money is hardly a new concept in the world of marriage. Don’t become a statistic.
These are 8 tips for better financial management in marriage that will have you communicating about money like the pros.
1. Lay Yourself Bare with Income and Debt
If you’re looking to better your financial management in marriage, you have to be open and honest about your circumstances. This means being truthful about how much money you earn each month.
It may be awkward to reveal a specific number, but it’s important information if you want to establish an accurate budget.
Debt is another tricky topic that can cause tension or discomfort. Still, couples are wise to discuss any debt they have incurred during or before the marriage.
Resist the temptation to give in to embarrassment or shame. Everyone has incurred debt at some point in their lives. Car loans, mortgages, messy divorces, mishandling of credit cards, business ventures and student loans are all common reasons why people go into debt.
Be honest with your partner about any debts you have so that you can factor them into your monthly budget and do away with debt as a couple.
2. Decide on What Banking System to Use
One part of combining marriage and finance involves deciding whether you will maintain independent bank accounts or share a joint account. There are pros and cons to each option. If you choose to keep separate accounts, you can mostly continue your financial lives as you had been doing before.
Couples who choose to share a bank account may find it easier to monitor spending and keep track of incoming money and outgoing payments.
There is no wrong answer. Discuss among yourselves which option works best for your circumstances.
3. Divide Bills Fairly
If you choose to keep separate bank accounts, you will need to have a serious conversation about splitting bills and debts.
You and your spouse have different incomes. If you make more than your spouse, it wouldn’t be fair to saddle them with the majority of your household bills. Decide fairly how the bills will be split between the two of you.
4. Watch Your Words
Money is a touchy subject, especially if one of you earns more than the other or has better saving habits. When you bring up the topic of finances, remember to do so with love. You’re not your spouse’s parent. There is no reason to use a lecturing or belittling tone when you talk about money.
Don’t do anything that will hurt your spouse’s feelings or cause a rift between the two of you.
Instead of being accusatory and saying “You’re not following the budget!” try a gentler approach with, “What do you think are some things we can both do to stick closer to the budget we discussed?” By bringing yourself into the mix, you’re taking the accusation out of the conversation.
5. Plan for Emergencies
Life is full of surprises, and some of them can be fairly expenses. One wise tip to follow with regards to marriage and finance is to have some emergency money put aside for the unexpected.
Set aside some money each month in a locked savings account or stored in a home-safe for emergencies. These may include the sudden loss of your job, house repairs, unexpected medical needs, unplanned pregnancy and more.
It’s difficult to think clearly in stressful situations. Not having money to pay for these things can cause emotional turmoil and add to debts and unnecessary loans. Disasters can strike at any time. Reduce the impact it has on your life by being prepared in advance.
6. Talk About Money Regularly
It’s a good idea for couples to get together regularly to discuss their finances. Once a month should be good enough. This way you’ll be able to consult your budget and make sure you are sticking to your financial plan.
The topic of marriage and finance can make some couples squeamish, but it doesn’t have to. By having regular discussions about your debt, spending habits, and monthly budget, you and your spouse will be able to talk about money as casually as you would the weather.
7. Tackle Debt as a Couple
You may not have helped rack up your partner’s debt, but as a married couple, you are both now responsible for taking care of each other. You do not have to help your spouse pay off their debt, but it is the kind and loving thing to do.
By working together, you’ll be able to tackle debt quicker and get back to living debt-free. This is beneficial for your marriage since this debt will no longer be hanging over you should you decide to buy a house or get a loan together.
8. Make Financial Goals
Setting financial goals together as a couple is a great way to grow in your marriage. Your goal might be to start saving for a family, retirement, to get out of debt, to increase your credit, or to plan for the perfect vacation. Whatever your goals are, make them a matter of discussion with your spouse.
Pooling your money and saving for the same goal will draw you closer together and give you pride in your marital accomplishments.
The topic of financial management in marriage doesn’t have to make you cringe. Open up about marriage and finance by having regular discussions about your budget. Set financial goals that will draw you closer together, and carefully save for emergencies or future retirement. Doing these things will bring peace into your marriage.