When you get married, you need to discuss how you plan to manage your money within your marriage.
You and your spouse may be coming at your finances, spending, and saving habits from completely different backgrounds and experiences. This makes managing money as a married couple a little tricky, especially as newlyweds.
Learning how to budget, save, and compromise when it comes to money and marriage takes time.
That's why we're giving you 10 tips for managing your finances as a couple.
1. Talk About Your History with Money
Part of managing money successfully in marriage means talking about it. This isn't always easy for couples.
It’s important to get your history with money out in the open. Talk about how you grew up feeling about money, how your parents handled their finances, your first credit card, your spending habits – get it all out in the open.
Having these conversations will help you better understand how your spouse views spending, saving, and debt.
2. Make a Budget
Building a household budget is essential for successful money management in marriage.
Start by writing down your combined monthly income. Then calculate your household expenses such as rent/mortgage payments, gas, debt repayment, groceries, utilities, and insurance.
Once you know how much money you'll have at the end of the month, you can add new sections to your lists such as vacation savings or fun-money expenses for date night and other entertainment.
Having a budget will help each partner understand where money is going each and every month. It can also contribute to getting out of debt and saving money.
3. Discuss How to Merge Finances
As a newly married couple, will you be sharing a bank account or keeping your finances separate? Will you keep separate accounts and add your partner's name to a shared account? Who will be responsible for which bills and expenses?
These are important questions to answer when managing money in marriage.
4. Communicate and Check-In
Not all couples are opposed to talking about money.
Studies show that millennial couples are more likely to discuss money than other generations. In fact, the research goes on to say that millennial couples talk about their finances at least once a week to stay on track and on the budget!
Discuss your finances regularly. It can also be beneficial to discuss the previous month's spending, debt, and how your financial goals are progressing.
5. Talk About Debt
Having debt doesn't feel good. It can also be embarrassing to admit to your spouse that you're bringing personal debt into the marriage.
Most people have debt at some point in their lives, be it school loans, car, or credit card debt. There is nothing to be embarrassed about – especially when you're talking to your spouse.
It can be helpful to pull up both your credit reports and review them together. This will help you get a better understanding of how much communal debt there is and make a plan for how to banish debt for good.
Additional Reading: Reasons Why You Should Reconsider a Big Wedding (Besides COVID)
6. Make a Yearly Plan
Research shows that the tricky topic of money was one of the most common problems faced by couples
But, if you want to manage your money successfully in your marriage, you need to communicate openly about it. One way you can do this is by making a yearly plan. Write down a list of all you want to accomplish such as:
- How much you want to save by the years end
- Specific savings for trips or other large expenses
- A plan to get out of debt
- Making extra money
Check in monthly with one another to see how you're doing financially. Having a goal will help you both work together to accomplish something. Plus, checking in regularly will help you stay on track to reach the finish line!
7. Put Away Emergency Savings
Now that you're taking care of your debts, it's time to start focusing on your savings.
Many different occasions call for saving money.
Planning on starting a family, buying a house, and retirement are all great reasons for putting money away. But one of the most important things you can ever save for is an emergency.
Life has a funny way of throwing you curve balls every now and again.
The unexpected loss of job, pregnancy, your car breaking down or developing a chronic illness are all just some unexpected twists in life that can cause you stress and financial strain.
Having a squirrel fund put away for unforeseen circumstances can be a true lifesaver.
8. Share Your Responsibilities
Being married means you are blending two lives together, for better or worse. And the worse portion means that whatever debts your spouse brings into the marriage become your debt, as well.
Be a supportive spouse by showing your partner they can count on you. Tackle your debts together so you can get rid of them for good.
9. Learn to Solve Arguments Fairly
It's not uncommon for couples to fight about money.
In a study of 748 marital conflicts between 100 couples, money was found to be the most repetitive and prominent topics to fight about. This statistic shows how important it is for couples to learn how to fight fair when it comes to their finances.
Speak to solve a problem. Use your disagreement as an opportunity to prevent future money misunderstandings.
Use “I/me” not “you”. Instead of saying, “You spend too much!” try saying “It makes me nervous when we don't stick to the budget we set.” This takes any blame or aggression out of your speech.
Additional Reading: Understanding Financial Infidelity in Your Relationship
10. Compromise When You Can
Part of being patient with a spouse also means being adaptable, which is one of the most important qualities for a lasting marriage, or so says the Australian Institute of Family Studies.
So, what happens if you are a devout saver, but your spouse loves to splurge financially? This can make compromising on finances feel pretty frustrating. When it is appropriate to do so, compromise on your finances. Work personal/fun spending as well as saving money into your budget and stick to it.
This ensures both partners get what they want.
Talking about money with your spouse doesn't have to be awkward or uncomfortable. The more you talk about it, the better you'll feel about the financial situation in your marriage. Sit down and have a serious talk about your bank accounts and debts, and make a long-term plan for how you want to manage your finances as a couple.