If you and your spouse have argued about money, you aren't the only ones. In fact, finances in marriage are one of the leading causes of divorce in America.
Couples may have conflicting money views, which can lead to a lot of problems. For example, one person might spend money recklessly while the other is thrifty. A difference in views about money can have a devastating impact.
That being said, the key ingredient to conquering finances in marriage is communication. In this article, we will discuss how to talk about finances when married. Let's dive right in!
Why handling finances in marriage is so important
Money is a large part of your life, and you have to deal with it every day. It affects your wallet but also your lifestyle and your family. Something that comes up so often is bound to be important.
Every married couple has differences and similarities, and this is likely true with money, as well. You may have different spending habits, monthly expenses, and even communication skills when you first get married.
In addition, if you've been in a relationship for some time, you may still face challenges when it comes to marriage and finances.
Since money is so much more than just paying the bills, but also relates to teamwork and communication, it's worth it to get finances in marriage right. And being able to discuss big subjects like money can also be great practice for handling other big decisions in your relationship.
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.
1. Be honest
Be honest - how are you and your spouse doing financially? To get on a healthy financial path, it is key to be truthful with your partner about your money.
In order to uncover where you are with your finances, ask yourself some money questions.
Do you have past financial mishaps? A bad gambling habit? Are you excessively thrifty?
If you answered yes to these or any other money questions, you should talk to your spouse.
I've read stories of couples where one person kept their massive debt a secret. That alone can destroy trust. It is therefore important to engage in honest conversations about your finances when married.
2. Understand your money personalities
As odd as it might sound, the reality is we each have a money personality. Some of us are natural savers while others spend freely.
Neither behavior is necessarily better than the other. However, it is important to know your money personality as this will help you understand your money habits.
There are roughly 5 money personalities - namely big spenders, savers, shoppers, debtors, and investors.
3. Set mutual goals when it comes to your money and marriage
To see success with finances in marriage, setting goals together is key. As a couple, you no doubt have a vision for the things you want to do together.
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.
In regard to marriage and finances, owning a home is a big deal. Do you dream of homeownership or plan to rent long-term?
If you do, you will want to start planning for that mortgage 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 one of the top long-term goals for many, and early is becoming very popular. However, in order to make your retirement plans work, you will need to decide your objectives with your partner.
Figure out debt
Debt payoff is a crucial part of finances in marriage. If you have credit card debt or other money you owe, it's time to make a plan to pay it off and move past it.
But do it together, and be sure to be honest about any monthly bills, student loans, car loans, or other debt.
4. 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.
You can choose weekly or monthly meeting times and even plan in advance what money topics you're going to discuss.
5. Be flexible
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.
And if your partner wants to try a different budgeting system or has some goals in mind that are different from yours, be willing to compromise. Be okay with switching things up if something isn't working.
6. Use spending limits
If overspending is an issue in your relationship, one of the best systems you can put in place is to introduce spending limits.
It 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.
The spending limits method works because it gives you both freedom and flexibility to refine your budget process separately and jointly.
7. Keep your emotions in check
Sometimes, finances in marriage can be overwhelming. Emotions can easily run high in these instances.
Remember to stay calm about finances and aim to have productive conversations about money. Managing emotions and stress is key to building a strong financial future together.
And you can do this by setting clear goals and working to strengthen your relationship as you work on your money as a team. It might also be helpful to know how to communicate in a healthy way.
8. 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.
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.
That 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.
9. Be open to financial counseling
If you find that you're unable to establish ground rules for communication or budgeting, there's nothing wrong with asking for some expert advice.
Doing so can help you to find common ground and be a team. Then you can reach your goals together.
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 basically three ways you can manage your finances - together, apart, or a mix.
Joint money management
Many couples choose to set up joint accounts to simplify their finances. So 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 and entertainment. They know what they want to contribute to their kids' education. Since all the accounts are joint, it's easy to stay on the same track.
Separate financial accounts
Other couples choose to pursue entirely separate bank accounts. With this scenario, each person still works towards common savings and expenses goals. The main difference is that each person must manage their portion of the responsibilities.
It frees each individual to handle their finances. However, it can also require more discussions so that neither person loses sight of your shared goals. Ultimately, you want to avoid communication issues.
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.
The hybrid 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.
You can successfully 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 goals together.
As you embark on your journey of marriage and finances, remember that communication and kindness will go a long way!