Marriage and Money: Tips for Talking Finances
There is no denying that a good marriage can be a wonderful journey. But it can also be a challenging one at times, especially when money is tight and important ﬁnancial decisions are looming.
In fact, financial issues are the cause of three arguments a month for American couples, according to a survey from the American Institute of CPAs. And while it’s always ideal to discuss money management issues before marriage, it’s never too late to start. Here are seven tips to get you started:
1. Work Together On Creating a Budget
You should be thinking about creating a household budget for couples as the foundation for a healthy marriage and robust ﬁnances. This budget can be the baseline from which most of your ﬁnancial decisions can be made. It can help you and your spouse have something to focus on during your ﬁnancial discussions.
2. Set a Time to Discuss Finances
If you do not schedule a set meeting time, it can become difficult to carve out an opportunity to actually discuss your ﬁnances when you’re married. My husband and I meet every Monday night at 7pm, after dinner, to review our spending from the previous week. Among other things, a good point to cover is how much money you or your spouse can spend without telling the other. My husband and I never purchase anything over $100 without consulting with each other ﬁrst.
3. Be Respectful
If you need to approach your spouse about spending habits, do all you can to be respectful and loving. Do not let emotions get the best of you or your finances. Listen to your spouse and try to see the situation from their perspective.
4. Make Finances Fun
You may not be able to make ﬁnances completely fun, but try pairing the discussion with an extra nice homemade dinner. Or perhaps you could go out for dessert (like a caramel banana nut pie) as a reward for meeting your spending and saving goals.
5. Use Your Budget to Solve Problems
If you are tracking your spending with a budget, you can see areas you are having trouble with. Perhaps you notice that you are over budget because you are overspending in the “Dining Out” category. You can then look back and see if someone is going out to lunch too often. Mint.com and You Need a Budget (YNAB) are great budgeting tools to use for this purpose.
6. Work As a Team
Two brains are better than one. Bounce ideas off of each other and brainstorm how you can cut spending and save money. If you are trying to determine the best deal on something, such as homeowners insurance, split the task of doing the research and have each person make half the phone calls. Remember, you and your spouse are a team.
7. Consider Marriage Advice
If you think you need some extra help or you and your spouse are not seeing eye to eye, consider bringing in a local financial professional or marital counselor to help sort it all out.