If you and your spouse have argued about money, you're not alone. In fact, finances in marriage is one of the leading causes of divorce in America.
In a study conducted by Forbes on money and marriage, they found that couples often have conflicting money views which leads to a lot of problems. For example, one person might spend money recklessly while the other is thrifty. This difference in world views can have a devastating impact.
That being said, the key ingredient to conquering finances in marriage is communication. In this article, we will dive into how to communicate about finances when married. Let's dive right in!
Ways to communicate about finances in marriage
Good communication is key to managing finances successfully with your spouse. Below are some tried and proven tactics that will bring stability and financial peace to your relationship.
Be honest - how are you and your spouse doing financially? To get on a healthy financial path, it is key to be honest with your partner about your money.
In order to uncover where you are with your finances, ask yourself some questions. Do you have past financial mishaps? A bad gambling habit? Are you excessively thrifty? If you answered yes to these or any other questions, you should talk to your spouse.
I've read stories of couples where one person kept their massive debt as a secret. That alone can destroy trust. It is therefore important to engage in honest conversations about your finances when married.
Understand your money personality
As odd enough as it might sound, the reality is we each have a money personality. Some of us are natural savers while others of us spend freely. Neither is necessarily better than the other. However, it is important to understand your money personality as this will help you understand your money habits.
Knowing your money personality will only help you to weed out potentially harmful behaviors such as racking up a lot of debt. For instance, there are roughly 5 money personalities - namely big spenders, savers, shoppers, debtors, and investors.
Set mutual goals
To see success in money and marriage, setting goals together is key. As a couple, you no doubt have a vision for the things you want to do together. Writing them down is key.
To get started, consider the following areas:
How many kids are you looking to have? What kinds of schools do you want them to go to? Although kids are a gift, they can be expensive. Knowing and understanding how you want to raise them will be key.
Do you dream of homeownership? If you do, you will want to start planning for that today! Look through your credit scores, determine your savings, and come up with a homeownership plan.
If you and your spouse have wanderlust, you're in good company! Many people love to travel, however, it is not cheap! If you have destinations in mind, make sure you're meeting your other goals first.
Retiring is a top goal for many and early is becoming very popular. However, in order to achieve your retirement goals, you will need to plan accordingly with your partner.
Schedule time on the calendar
You've no doubt heard the saying that a goal without a plan is just a wish. And so, it is important to commit to regular discussions about finances with your spouse. Without dedicated conversations, you might struggle to meet your financial goals.
If you have no existing goals together, you might want to start small. Are there small bills you could work on together? Do you have joint savings goals you can put in place today? If you are starting to plan together for the first time, it is best to start small. This will give you the highest chance of success in the long run.
No matter how perfect your plans are, there will likely come a time when you fail. These moments are critical points in any relationship. How you handle these determines how well you handle storms as a couple. If one of you fails to pay a bill, acknowledge it and move past it. Couples can find ways to overcome financial mishaps.
However, many don't. They end up fighting and arguing over spilled milk instead of joining together and finding a way forward. As much as you can, don't let this be you as it can hinder financial progress.
Don't sweat the small stuff
Similar to the point above, if your spouse goes a few dollars over budget, don't sweat it. Budgeting is an ongoing process of refinement. It takes time to get budgeting right.
If overspending is an issue in your relationship, one of the best systems you can put in place is to introduce spending limits. This gives each of you flexibility on spending within reason. If either of you goes over the limit, then it will be time for a conversation. This method works because it gives you both freedom and flexibility to refine your budget process separately and jointly.
Keep your emotions in check
Sometimes, financial situations can be overwhelming. For example, one or both of you might be in a lot of debt. Emotions can easily run high in these instances. If you and your partner find yourselves in debt, the best way to beat it is with a written gameplan. Debt mostly causes anxiety when it is ignored. Furthermore, debt often causes embarrassment which causes even more anxiety. Managing emotions and stress is key to building a strong financial future together.
Remember it's not a fight
Talking about money is not synonymous with getting into a fight and so don't make it one. Plan a nice dinner, go for a long walk, etc. Basically create a comfortable environment where you can both talk about your finances and your related feelings.
Set goals for how much you intend to save and how soon you want to pay down debt or improve your credit together. It might also be helpful to know how men and women differ when it comes to communicating with each other.
Keep in mind that you don't need to talk about your entire financial situation in one conversation. You can talk about one topic over dinner and save the other topics for a separate occasion.
This way things don't get too overwhelming or stressful. Remember, it's a conversation so be sure to listen to your partner's perspective, ideas, and thoughts as well.
Practical ways to manage your finances in marriage
Now that you and your spouse have a communication game plan, you might still be wondering how to organize your finances. This part is arguably easier.
There are essentially three ways you can manage your finances - together, apart or a mix.
1. Joint money management
Many couples choose to set up joint accounts to simplify their finances. At the end of the month, their paychecks come into the joint account, and expenses are paid from it. These couples typically work closely together to ensure they are on the same page about splitting bills and their goals. They determine in advance what they will spend on vacation travel and entertainment. They know what they want to contribute to their kids' education.
Couples that chose to combine finances should also find ways to build in flexibility. For example, they build in a spending allowance for each person giving them the freedom to still pursue their interests independently.
2. Separate financial accounts
Other couples choose to pursue entirely separate bank accounts. Under this scenario, each person still works towards common savings and expenses goals. The main difference is that each person is responsible for their portion of financial responsibilities.
This frees each person to handle their finances. However, it can also require more communication so that neither person loses sight of your shared goals. Ultimately, you want to avoid communication issues.
3. Hybrid financial accounts
Under this model, each person keeps a personal bank account where they receive their paychecks separately. They will also have a joint bank account which they will use to pay household bills.
This model works great if you are looking to keep some level of financial independence. However, it does mean managing multiple accounts which could become confusing if not carefully monitored.
Final thoughts on how to communicate about finances in marriage
In conclusion, every couple can successfully manage finances when married. With a lot of proactive communication, a couple can work through their financial goals together.
As you embark on your financial journey together, remember that communication and kindness will go a long way!