How to Manage Finances After Marriage
Okay, I’ll be frank. Growing up, I always said marriage wasn’t for me. My mother figured I was just young and would outgrow singing that tune. When I turned 30, she got nervous that I wouldn’t give her grandkids.
Then, of course, the unexpected happened, I met … her. The woman who drives me mad, yet I love dearly. A few wedding bells later, and I have the ball and chain on my ankle! Okay, that last part was a joke.
But seriously, I was terrified. I understood the hurdles of a strong, healthy marriage — the possibility of divorce being one of them.
I didn’t want to end up as just another part of a growing statistic, where 40% – 50% of marriages in the U.S. end in divorce, according to the American Psychology Association.
Now, long after the hot and heavy honeymoon, we argued. A lot. Most of which were about, you guessed it, money, which is the second leading cause of divorce.
To start with, we didn’t have much, so I knew we were in for an uphill battle.
Communicating about marriage finances
When I was single, I had made it my mission to learn frugality. My job didn’t yield much, and I had to make ends meet. I penny pinched whenever and wherever I could.
I carried that same mindset into the relationship. She was a spender. She lived in the moment. I was always thinking of the future. I’m sure I’ve been referred to as cheapskate in an argument or two.
One of the biggest problems I noticed was the lack of communication about how to manage finances after marriage.
We only had shouting matches when facing financial hiccups. From foolish purchases to hidden purchases, anxiety and stress were the feelings evoked whenever the topic of money came up.
It was during the most heated bouts that, sadly, I considered calling it quits. Then one day, we had a serious talk about it all: our debt, our spending, and, most importantly, our goals.
When we set clear financial goals for ourselves and made commitments to ourselves and each other, it not only strengthened our marriage finances but our marriage as well.
Fixing your marriage finances
My son was born with gastroschisis, a condition where the child’s intestines are developed outside of his abdomen.
Because of this, he needed 24-hour care that most daycares aren’t willing to provide.
It’s for this reason in my household, I am the breadwinner, and my wife is a stay at home mom(yes, my mom got that grandchild she was so sure I might not give her).
It’s traditional, yet it works for us.
“Couples need to understand their money difference, like who’s the spender and who’s the saver, so they can be on the same page with their finances,” said Rachel Cruze, finance expert and #1 New York Times best-selling author.
Despite our arrangement, we weren’t on the same page, let alone the same book when it came to managing finances after marriage.
We engaged in what many relationships that fail are lacking in: communication.
We took the time to iron out our spending habits, what we can save, and how this played into our long term and short term goals of being debt-free.
And not only setting aside college money for my little monster(believe me he is!) but also our nest egg for retirement.
This was no easy feat, but it was worth it.
Letting go of the discomfort
A study conducted by Ramsey solutions in 2017 acknowledged that money is the number one issue married couples argue about.
Hence, it’s not surprising that money is such an uncomfortable topic of discussion.
In a 2017 Money Matters report, 68% of the 3,000 Americans surveyed said they would rather talk about their weight than money.
For my wife and me, it was no different at first. We avoided the subject like the plague. This, intern, stirred resentment on both sides.
She saw me as controlling and petty, and I saw her as a frivolous money pit who thought nothing of tomorrow and what it may bring. In short, the ant was married to the grasshopper.
But what made it easy to break the ice and start “the talk” was finding common ground: our son.
In our talk, we addressed that we owed it to him to get our marriage finances right. We both were well aware of growing up in poor households where debt and stress were the norm and didn’t want the same for our son.
But having one discussion isn’t enough. We had conversations about money on a regular basis.
Every marriage is different. So are their finances
Like the individuals that comprise them, each marriage is unique, as is the way they handle their finances in marriage.
That said, the most common ways I’ve heard from married friends and family on how they manage their greenbacks is either:
- Keeping separate accounts and splitting the bills.
- Keeping separate accounts but pooling some of their income on a joint account
- Just having joint accounts.
I’ve heard friends say there are pros and cons to each way, but I personally think that that reflects on the couple’s values.
My wife and I chose to have joint accounts mainly because we felt both of us having access to all our funds, in the event one of us is unable to grant access, is more important in the long run.
This method may not be the best way for every relationship, and I’m sure some people would object with its drawbacks.
But this method gave us a sense of accountability to each other while strengthening our marriage.
How should married couples split finances depends upon the type of connection the couple shares.
Today’s finances equal tomorrow’s dreams
The American dream isn’t a far fetched ideology. I don’t think so, anyway.
I’m a firm believer that my wife and I will see it actualized. Taking the necessary steps to financial freedom is the key to our slice of the American dream.
Not to say we got it perfect, but today my wife and I share the same financial goals, and we persevere through the bumps when they come.
To the couples out there struggling with their marriage finances, I hope this serves as a catalyst to have “the money talk.” Cooperation starts with communication.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
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