One of the biggest issues couples argue over is the topic of money. Finances can be incredibly stressful, especially for newly married couples who are finding their way after melding their lives together. Once you are married all your financial skeletons come out of the closet. From past debts and car loans to poor money management and making more than your mate, when it comes to money matters, your finances can cause big tension in a marriage. Here’s how couples can manage household expenses and avoid conflicts after marriage.
1. Be open about your earnings
Keeping secrets is a surefire way to start a conflict in your marriage, especially when it involves money. Just as you are open about what debts you may have, both parties should also be open about how much they make. If you make a substantial amount of money that your marriage mate was not aware of or perhaps make significantly less, it can be an uncomfortable subject to broach.
If you’re having trouble communicating with your partner, you may choose to write a letter discussing your history with money, how your parents treated money, and about how much you make. This letter can be a great opener to get the conversation started about earnings and debts.
2. Do not be judgmental over debts
Just as your partner had a past romantic life before you were married, they also had their own financial life. After marriage, and preferably before, it is important to be open and honest about your financial history. Revealing past finances to a partner can be a nerve-wracking and potentially embarrassing subject, especially if they do not make as much as you or were not careful with their finances in the past and have accrued debt.
Do your best to refrain from judgments. Lecturing your partner or arguing over a debt that you both now have to cover is not going to help the situation. Instead, talk about how you will both tackle the debt and put together a financial strategy to avoid such behavior in the future.
3. Choose a payment plan that is fair
When learning how couples can manage household expenses and avoid conflicts after married, it is best to first consider your personal financial circumstances. Not every payment plan is going to be 50/50 split. This is because not every couple is going to make the same amount of money.
When deciding who will pay for what, first you must discuss how much each of you makes. Next, make a list of your monthly bills including groceries, credit cards, utilities, mortgage/rent, phone bills, cable/Netflix, and any other expenses. If one of you earns significantly more than the other, you may decide as a couple that it would make sense for this person to take on the more expensive household expenses such as the mortgage and car payments.
Compare your list with who makes more and split your payments in a way that is fair and doable for both parties.
4. What money method fits your relationship?
There are many different avenues of merging finances that couples take after marriage. All have their pros and cons. There is no right answer as to which situation works best for a married couple, it is simply up to personal preference. Do one of you have personal debts that should be taken care of alone? Which of your household expenses needs the most attention? Answering these questions will help narrow down to who is responsible for what. Here are some methods to consider when managing your money.
Shared bank accounts
I there only one person in the household who works? If so, shared bank accounts may be your best option as a married couple. Many couples merge their accounts once they are married and use a joint-bank account. This is a convenient way to pay your rent or mortgage, as well as joint bills and groceries. This option lets both parties see what is being spent, which bills have been paid, and where you could curb spending. Using a joint bank account also makes it easier for couples to do financial planning, such as saving for a holiday or buying a car.
To do this method successfully there has to be a high level of trust. Sharing a bank account means sharing all of your finances together. You must trust that both parties will contribute and be responsible with the cash flow, instead of overspending.
Also watch: What Is a Relationship Conflict?
Separate bank accounts with shared cards
Another option for those who aren’t ready to commit to a completely shared account is to keep your own bank accounts and use a shared account that you both contribute a certain amount to every month to take care of bills and household expenses. You may also choose to keep separate bank accounts but used a shared debit or credit card that links up to your own personal account. This lets both parties feel financially secure while still being able to keep some sense of privacy with regards to income.
Completely separate bank accounts
A new married couple may choose to keep their bank accounts separate after marriage. This does not mean that you don’t trust one another or that you feel the other isn’t responsible. It may simply be that you have had the same account for many years and aren’t interested in changing your financial routine. If you choose this route, be sure that both of you have agreed on which bills to take care of so that no expense gets lost between both accounts.
Keeping separate bank accounts also helps protect your financial stability in case of the unthinkable, such as identity theft or online scams.
4. Revisit your financial situation often
Planning your financial future as a couple means taking bills, family, emergencies, and luxury purchases into consideration when making a budget. Just because you have created a marriage budget doesn’t mean it will stay the same forever. As your lives change and your family grows, be sure to revisit your financial situation to see if any adjustments need to be made.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Rachael Pace is a noted relationship writer associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying the evolution of loving partnerships and is passionate about writing on them. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.