Money does not have to be the root of all evil, especially as far as your marriage is concerned. If you do some preemptive work, you can manage any money-related problems that may occur in your marriage.
Here are several tips to help you keep arguments about finances at a minimum, starting with exercises to do before you say “I do.”
You will want to disclose the debts you already have, such as student, auto or home loans, and credit-card debt.
If this is not your first marriage, share with your partner any alimony and child support obligations you have. Talk about your bank accounts and what’s in them: checking, savings, investment, etc.
Decide how your finances will be managed once you are married: joint account, separate accounts, or both?
2. Examine your relationship with money
Do you and your partner have differing views on money? Is one of you a saver, the other a spender?
If you aren’t aligned with how you think your money should be spent (or saved), you need to work on finding a finance-managing system that satisfies both of you.
Maybe decide on a spending limit, say $100.00, and anything above that amount needs mutual pre-approval before the item is purchased.
If you prefer not to have to build consensus for large purchases, you might want to keep separate, self-funded “fun money” accounts, to be used for when you want something for yourself, such as clothing or a video game.
This can help cut down on arguments since you aren’t using money from the common pot.
3. Use debit cards instead of credit cards for expenditures
Have you ever, in the past, hidden any purchases or gotten in too much credit card debt due to overspending? If this is the case, perhaps cutting up your credit cards and using only debit cards makes good financial sense for you.
4. Define short-term and long term goals for your money
You should both agree on saving for retirement and establishing an emergency fund in case of loss of a job. How much would you like to put into a savings account each month?
Discuss how you might save for your first home purchase, buying a new car, or vacation or investment property.
Do you agree that establishing a college fund for your children is important?
Revisit your short and long-term financial goals at least once a year so that you can take stock and review if these goals have evolved (or, better yet, been met!).
5. Discuss contribution towards supporting parents
Talk about what your contribution will be towards supporting your parents, now and in the future, when their healthcare needs will increase.
Be transparent when “gifting” a member of your family with cash, primarily if that family member relies on your generosity rather than getting a job himself.
Make sure your spouse is aware of and in agreement with this arrangement.
Discuss aging parents’ needs, and if you would be open to moving them closer to you, or even into your home. How will this affect your financial situation?
6. Decide financial arrangement for children
What are your thoughts about allowances? Should children be paid for tasks that contribute to the smooth running of the household? When they are old enough to drive, should they be given a car, or should they work for it?
Should teenagers work part-time while still in school? And college? Should they help contribute to tuition? Take out student loans? What about once they have graduated from university?
Would you continue to allow them to live rent-free at home? Would you help with the rent of their first apartment?
These are all good topics to discuss with your spouse, and revisit as the children grow, and your financial situation changes.
7. Discuss expenses if only one spouse earns for the household
Having one stay-at-home-spouse and one wage-earner can sometimes lead to money conflicts, as the wage-earner may feel like they should have more voice in how money should be managed in the family.
This is why it is essential for the person staying at home to have some type of job where they, too, feel a sense of control over money.
There are many possibilities for stay-at-home-spouses to bring in a little cash: eBay selling, freelance writing, private tutoring, in-home childcare or pet sitting, selling their crafts on Etsy, or participating in online surveys.
The goal is to feel like they are also participating in the financial health of the family and to have some of their own money to do with as they like.
The wage-earner needs to recognize the contribution of the non-wage earner. They keep the house and family running, and without this person, the wage earner would have to pay someone to do this.
You are a team on equal footing, and even if only one of you works outside of the house, you both work.
Examining finances in your marriage can be a sensitive area, but the best thing you can do is be open, honest, and dedicated to continual communication about this subject.
Start your marriage off on the right foot by talking about good financial stewardship and coming up with a reasonable plan to deal with budgeting, spending, and investing.
Establishing good money management habits early on in your marriage is an integral part of a healthy, happy, and financially stable life together.
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.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.