The secret to managing your money in marriage: COMMUNICATION!
We’ve all been told, at least once in life, not to mix business and friendship. Basically, money problems are bound to come up at some point in life. Unfortunately, financial issues can easily destroy a relationship if you're not careful.
Marriage is one of those rare cases in which you can’t avoid the subject of money. You have to work together as a team and agree on your money management plan to avoid potential issues.
From setting golden rules to coming up with your own system of tracking spending, there are many ways for couples to maintain order and avoid disputes regarding money. They mainly all relate back to one key point: communication! Check out these tips for communicating about different aspects of your finances.
Prioritize your budget
When budgeting your monthly expenses, it's important to prioritize. Focus on paying essential bills first. Discuss with your partner how much each of you should pay towards the bills. Equally splitting your bills is the best way to avoid future disputes, but it's not always possible when you have different incomes. Once the basics are paid, then you can divvy up your money for discretionary spending. It is important to decide your priorities as a family to differentiate between items that are “musts” and “wants.” Write all your individual expenses down and prioritize by urgency and need. While you may want to buy a new pair of jeans or treat yourself to a manicure, it is not as important as the electricity bill to keep your lights on. It is of utmost importance to discuss your discretionary spending and be on the same page about what you both can afford.
Don’t take things for granted
If one partner earns more than the other, you may decide that person will contribute more to the household finances than the lesser earner. In this situation, it's important not to take your spouse’s goodwill for granted, as money can be a sensitive subject when unexpected expenses arise. Discuss with your partner to decide on a fair split of financial and household responsibility. If you’re the person paying less in the household, there are other means in which you can contribute and compensate for it. Offer to do additional chores or take on other responsibilities in his or her place to make things more equitable. This a great way of showing your partner that you are a team player, and it clearly emphasizes your gratitude for their contributions to your family unit.
Do not keep “costly secrets”
If you have debts, loans, or other financial obligations, being upfront and honest is key to avoiding problems between you. Communicating these challenges early on will allow you to craft a plan of attack for dealing with such financial burdens. Sit down with your partner and decide how you'll handle those items, whether individually or together. It might be an uncomfortable convo, but it will be so much easier to handle than the fallout of blindsiding your partner with bad financial news down the road.
Learn your partner's “money mindset”
Couples often argue over each other’s manner of spending and what each perceives as “w0rthy” costs. This can all be avoided once you've discussed each of your spending habits and values. Instead of fighting with your partner for buying too many shoes, try to identify the reason behind it. Some individuals were raised by spendthrifts in a carefree environment, while others grew up in a more money-conscious home. Accepting your present financial reality is key to solving such outlooks. Old habits can be curbed, but it takes work and communication. You'll also need a mutual understanding and respect of each other's values, as well as the desire to pursue shared goals.
Decide on a common goal
You might find you have a few differences of opinion when it comes to how you like to spend money. It's only natural to disagree on some things, so don't get overly worried if your ideas don't perfectly align. A successful marriage takes compromise. Combat your separate ideas on spending by deciding on a “grand scheme” to work towards together. Unrealistic expectations, trivial plans and essential goals in life are all important subjects for you to discuss with your partner. This may help you determine the “whys” and “hows” of spending money in the day-to-day. Choosing a common goal makes it easier for each of you to accept and understand the other's decisions.
By following this advice, you'll turn money into your strength, not your weakness!