Managing Finances in the Marriage
5 Tips on How to Tackle Finances as a Team
Posted on November 12, 2019
Topic Categories: Consumer Help
By Coach Fin
It’s #1….but not for a good reason: “money and finances” are typically cited as the top reason for stress in a marriage. One scientific journal recently noted that 50 percent of divorced couples interviewed listed financial problems as a major factor that contributed to their divorce – significantly more than any other factor.
The issue is not uncommon. Stressing about money can cause (and magnify) problems in a relationship, particularly when the relationship is a married couple. It can seem hard to believe that the person we’re so compatible with doesn’t share our views about money!
Typically, married couples combine their finances. While that brings more income and assets to the household, it can also bring more debt. Surveys show that an increasing number of American couples are beginning their marriages in debt. According to a recent study by Ramsey Solutions, 86 percent of couples married five years or less reported starting their marital lives with debt. That’s compared to only 43 percent of couples married more than 25 years ago.
The first step is for you and your spouse or significant other to commit to working together to manage the household finances. Open and clear communication is the starting point. If you’re going to combine your finances, both of you should feel like you have a voice in how your money is managed and spent.
Once you’ve established those ground rules, here are a few tips for working together and living (financially) happily ever after:
Understand your partner’s finances.
If you’re combining money with a significant other, it’s important to share the goals you have for that money. Take time to thoroughly discuss each other’s finances – and to talk about how those finances could be combined harmoniously. You each need to gain an understanding of where the other person stands financially, as well as his or her habits and expectations.
Set financial goals for the household.
When your finances are aligned, it’s important your goals are, too. Make sure you and your partner agree upon and understand what you’re working toward—both in the short and long term. It’s just as important to discuss what you want from retirement as it is to understand whether you’re saving for a new car or a big vacation in the next couple of years.
Set a recurring money date.
Finances can change over time, which is why it’s important to maintain a regular household budget. It’s OK if either you or your partner is more involved in tracking expenses and keeping the budget, but it’s important that the other member of the couple remains consistently involved. A recurring “money date,” where both of you can examine, discuss and contribute to the budget, helps each of you stay on the same page, and maintains the feeling of shared responsibility.
Remain 100 percent transparent.
It’s important never to hide financial matters from your spouse. Be completely honest about any financial transactions, debt, or savings. Money is a tool to bring you toward your future goals and life plans—a journey you’re on together.
Keeping finances on track can be hard enough for a single person. Once you add the spending habits, beliefs, and debts of another, you create a more complicated financial scenario. Don’t be afraid to seek expert help. Cinfed offers resources ranging from online tools to help with planning and budgeting, to personal meetings with our Financial Possibilities Team. Our Skill Sessions give you opportunities to learn about specific topics in person.
Effectively managing the money in your marriage requires a conscientious investment of time and effort. However, that investment can pay off with reduced stress and better communication with your spouse as you both work toward your future goals.