Money is an age-old problem that has affected marriages for a long time.
According to research, arguing about money is the top predictor of divorce, especially when those arguments happen early in marriage. Couples often face financial problems in marriage.
Even though some of these marriages don’t end in divorce, there is constant fighting about money problems. This constant tension can kill whatever happiness the couple have and turn marriage into a sour experience.
Discussed here are some of the major financial issues in a marriage and ways to prevent money from ruining your marriage or steps on how to navigate them.
Financial issues in a marriage
Let’s understand what are the top marriage-killing money issues and how to tackle each one of them expertly, without ruining your marriage.
1. My money, your money attitude
When you were single, whatever money you had you spent it however way you wanted.
In marriage, you have to adjust, you are now one and as such what you both make is now family money, regardless of who makes more than the other.
Marriage calls for some serious adjustments, but it is important that you do this.
Some couples open a joint account and others work with separate accounts. It really does not matter; what is important is transparency, trustworthiness, and accountability.
This means that a secret account is out of the question.
This is one of the biggest reasons couples fight.
There are spouses who have lots of debt and even worse, sometimes their partner is not even aware of those debts.
When you get married, money becomes a joint affair, which means any personal debts become a joint debt. In this case, both of you need to sit down from the start of your marriage and consolidate your debts.
Write it down – who do you owe money and how much? Go further and write the interest rates of each of those loans.
For example –
When we got married, I had student loans from my campus days.
We sat down and strategized how much we would be paying per month and right now, we are done paying.
Sometimes you will need to borrow.
Somewhere you will get a lower rate and pay off the one with high rates. The only debt that should take long is mortgage and even this should be paid in huge chunks whenever possible.
Now, credit cards are a no-no.
The idea here is to tackle debt together and fiercely. If your spouse borrows money without your consent, that is a problem and you need to deal with it.
3. Major purchases
Items that cost a lot have to be discussed beforehand. These range from cars to electronics.
As a couple, you need to put a cap beyond which you need to discuss that purchase. This will help you save more by avoiding instances where your spouse went out and bought a fridge without telling you.
The point raised here is ‘marriage is a partnership.’ Discussing purchases allows you to see whether you need it, how much will it cost and can you afford it as well as places you can get a discount.
For example –
After 3 years of marriage, we finally bought a TV last month. I remember we talked about it for a while and both of us checked around for good deals.
As agreed, we set the money aside for the time when we would buy the television set.
The choice of investment and the amount to invest also needs to be discussed.
If neither of you is in the financial sector nor understands investment options, you might need to work with a company that does. Even if you get a company to do it, both of you should be aware of how your portfolio is doing.
Any decisions regarding whether to add or reduce your investment should be jointly discussed.
For example –
if you want to buy land, it would be wise if both of you went to inspect the land and be involved in the entire purchase process.
This will prevent the fight from investing in something your partner considers a poor choice.
This is a delicate one which entails proper discussion every time the need arises.
For example –
My husband and I sit down every end of the month and, as we do our budget, we discuss all for the next month such as support to friends or extended family.
This prevents one person from feeling that their family is neglected. We go a step further, whenever we are sending money to my family, my husband sends it and I do the same with his family.
Such a gesture lets them know that we are on the same page and there is nothing like “my family”. It also puts your spouse in good light with the other family.
However, when we need to say no to money requests (because sometimes you have to) each person speaks to their family.
This again prevents each spouse from looking bad with the in-laws.
You need to put aside an emergency fund and also save for the future.
You should also save for family projects (to avoid debt) such as school fees for you and/or the kids. At any one point you should both be aware of how much money you have saved. Who should be in charge of the money?
In this world, there are spenders and savers.
The saver is usually more frugal and is good at planning the finances. For some families it is the husband and in others, it is the wife. In ours, I am the saver so I handle our money – after we have budgeted each month.
When you are married, you are now a team and in a team, each participant has their strengths and weaknesses. The idea is to allocate duties matching each person’s strengths.
7. Budget every month
You will notice that throughout this post I have spoken on being on the same page in all matters.
Budgeting allows you to discuss each month’s incomes, investments and expenditure.
Budget for even mundane things such as dinner – eating out on date nights. If each person usually gets an allowance, this is a great time to allocate it.
After budgeting, make it clear who is to sort which bills to ensure no bill goes unpaid. Keep a book or use an excel sheet so you can always look back and see how you have been using your money. It will also show you any bad trends and areas to do better.
Two people can do so much together; more than any individual can.
This is true even for money. If you can find a way to pull all your resources together and channel them in areas you have discussed and agreed, you will be surprised about the things you will have achieved in a few years.