Money is already a tricky issue of itself but it multiplies a hundredfold when you are married. You’ll have to merge your outlook on finance management, approach to spending, needs and wants with another person who grew up under different circumstances and teachings. That’s why it’s important to learn how to handle money matters jointly with your spouse if you want to have one less strain in the marriage.
Experts agree that divergent values and attitudes concerning money is one of the leading causes of divorce in the U.S. And not surprisingly, it isn’t about the amount of money that the couple has or makes that cause the arguments but conflicting beliefs about finances that trigger the spats.
There is no “one size fits all” approach to handling money matters within a relationship. Having a joint account may work for some but not for others and what percentage of the budget goes to the various expenses are decisions both partners arrive at and still maintain conjugal bliss. But there are basic principles that couples can follow regardless of income so that their financial management is mutually satisfying and will keep the marriage going. Here are a few of those guidelines:
Have a full disclosure of each other’s financial status.
Revealing the true score about each other’s financial state is preferably done before the wedding vows are said. Sure, it takes away the romance and, in a worst case scenario, one of you may back out of the planned union. But it is better to have it out in the open than risk being caught later that you are deep in credit card debt. You could always alleviate some of your debt through refinancing and personal loans. Otherwise, your partner may be a little dismayed to find out about your negative cash flow but true love will survive bad news. On the other hand, keeping cash stashed away and withholding the information from your spouse can have just as devastating effects because it shows a lack of trust and creates suspicion on the other person.
Having an open dialogue about your finances will pave the way towards sound planning, expectations, setting ground rules over handling separate or joint accounts and individual responsibilities.
Create a budget and monitor it.
When spenders and savers meet and marry, the financial incompatibility on money matters can rock the union. Develop a budget that is acceptable to both of you and make sure you keep to it through monthly monitoring. Aside from the regular necessary expenses and funds for entertainment, allocate an amount for unexpected happenings like car breakdowns, medical treatments, etc.
Creating a budget can be a challenging task but thanks to the electronic age, you can use budget apps that will make funds allocation a breeze. One great app is the PocketGuard. It is easy to use because it does not have complicated finance terms and tables, and it connects to your back account securely, so you’ll know how much money you have and where the expenses went.
Control your debts.
Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to be totally debt-free. Student loans, car and housing loans, credit cards and a host of other loan-tempting schemes ensure you will always be in debt. Having credit cards and taking out loans are alright, even necessary, but make sure your debts don’t get out of control.
Relating to the ground rule of full disclosure of finances, avoid financial deception and inform each other of your debts early in the marriage. If one or both of you do get into debt later on in the relationship, you’ll be able to openly discuss plans for paying them because you are both starting from the same base.
Talk with each other when planning to spend a big sum of money.
Even if you have a separate account, tell your partner if you’re planning to spend a considerable amount of money. It could be an item purchase or a travel plan. How big a purchase is and how much money is considered a huge amount vary from one couple to another but you should have an idea of what they are, in your own marriage.
Consulting over purchases prevents recriminations and unpleasant surprises if you have talked it over beforehand with your partner.
Plan money matters together for your goals.
Long-term goals will include your kids’ education, having a house and retirement. These all involve money that will impact on your budget. Look at investments and insurance plans that you can cash on in when the time comes. Agree on the details of your savings plan for your child’s education. Automate payment of home loan mortgage by having your bank deduct the amount from your account every month. For your retirement plans, make the maximum contribution to your 401k for both of you, if it is possible.
Couples who can communicate freely and honestly about money matters have a greater chance for feeling happy and satisfied in their marriage. Physical and emotional health will also benefit from the reduced stress of arguing about finances and you’ll become richer in more ways than just money.