Finances in Marriage
Family Money Management
By openly discussing finances in marriage, couples can learn how to reduce financial stress and face the challenges of family money management together.
Many individuals have trouble in managing personal finances. Issues such as overspending, failure to budget money, reckless use of credit cards, and lack of basic financial planning can be overwhelming.
When two people come together in a marriage, their financial problems can be greatly multiplied, causing a considerable amount of stress. This is especially true if the husband and wife view money issues differently, with one being a natural spender and the other being a natural saver. On the other hand, if a couple determines to work as a team, they not only can be successful in managing their finances, but they can actually strengthen their marriage.
Discuss Your Finances and Marriage
Starting With the Big Picture
With any aspect of marriage, communication is the key to developing a strong relationship. The same is true of issues surrounding finances and marriage. It is important to start the discussions by first looking at the big picture. If you don’t have an honest conversation about the broader topics regarding finances in marriage, you won’t be able to agree on the day to day decisions. Although this conversation is best held before the wedding, it is never too late to get on the right track by talking about it.
At a minimum, you need to discuss:
- Debt - How do you deal with debts that each spouse brought into the marriage? What is your attitude toward using debt within the marriage?
- Lifestyle - At what level do you want to live? Is it important to live affluently or would you rather adopt a frugal lifestyle?
- Children - Do you want to have children and, if so, how many? What do you want to provide for them, financially?
Money and Marriage Goals
After you see eye to eye on the big picture of your finances in marriage, work together on goals by doing some basic financial planning. Some goals that are important to many couples are:
- eliminating debt
- helping their children finance their college education
- funding retirement
These are a few examples and you as a couple may have many others. By developing a financial freedom plan together, you can put your goals in writing and commit to them as a couple.
Tips for Managing Money as a Team
By seeing the big picture and agreeing upon the goals together, you can lay a strong foundation for your finances in marriage. Here are some tips for building on that foundation and managing your money together as a team:
- Develop a budget together. With a budget you will know each other’s expectations in every aspect of spending. This personal budget worksheet is an excellent tool to help you plan a budget. For a less complicated alternative, consider the envelope budget system.
- Agree together on who manages each part of the budget. Some areas you may decide to equally manage.
- Make it a priority for each of you to have some "fun money" to spend any way that you want without reporting it to your spouse. You can budget some money for this or you can fund it with gifts or unexpected earnings.
- Divide the financial responsibilities according to strengths and time availability. Decide who should pay the bills, balance the checkbook, and keep track of investments.
- Have a joint checking account. There may be some special situations where you need to maintain individual checking accounts, but for the vast majority it is better to just have a joint account. This will encourage you to further discuss your finances.
- Make some time each month to discuss your finances together. Use this opportunity to monitor the budget and spending, discuss your progress toward financial goals, and address other issues that surface.
Remember you won’t always agree about finances in marriage. There will be times when you will both need to compromise. However, by communicating and working together, you will not only strengthen your finances but also your relationship.
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