When I originally wrote this draft blog post about 4 years ago, I mentioned that our way of doing things with our finances has been very successful for us, and that we didn’t have issues between us due to finances… WELL, then we bought a house, and cars, and started investing in retirement, got fun medical bills, doing our own side businesses, etc. So our finances got a little more complex, and therefore the responsibilities of managing them got a little bit more intense. So now I’m making a revision that yep, finances have caused contention for us! All I had to do was wait until the real world hit apparently, haha.
Is Money to blame?
It’s pretty common among couples to fight over finances. When divorced couples are asked what one of the main reasons were that lead to their separation, a lot of them tend to say it was due to finances. But let’s dissect what that actually means for a second: Was it because they didn’t have enough money? Someone had bad spending habits, weren’t truthful over finances? Because there HAS TO BE an underlying cause. At least, I believe that there has to be. I think sometimes it’s not about the money, but rather the process of managing the money; how it’s discussed, the organization of it, the responsibility, how the money is earned and by whom (job satisfaction factor too), understanding it all, balancing between different spending habits, etc.
Because of this theory of mine, I think it’s important we evaluate and consider each of our own current money management processes. And you can do that by following these tips below I have come up with from personal experience and research that I think will help couples manage their finances more happily!
**As you read these tips, I encourage you to evaluate your own money management process. Talk about these ideas with your partner, see what their thoughts on how things are being done currently. Decide if any of these tips are something you should implement if you aren’t already.
5 Tips for Handling Finances Better in Marriage
1. coMBINE INCOMES
I have learned that combining incomes, and managing the money together, is one of the most important things to do for your marriage, because it’s a partnership. (I share my passion on this and the benefits of it in the article, “What is Mine is Yours.” )Managing finances can already seem daunting, but what a great feeling it is to have a partner to help ease that burden! I realize that sometimes certain personality types make the idea of sharing money difficult. But to me, I think that by not being willing to combine incomes and pay all of the bills together, it is a sign of selfishness, and can even be perceived as non-committal. These two characteristics do not usually create a happy marriage.
Sometimes it makes sense to each have a separate bank account, and if that is the case for your relationship, I encourage you to just be fully transparent about those transactions.
2. Understand each other’s process before you create one that you do together.
Before you got together, each of you had your own way of handling your money. Maybe one of you preferred to do everything digitally, and the other preferred to do everything on paper. If this couple starts their finances by doing everything by hand, know that it could make the other partner feel anxious. A “happy medium” way of making both people feel comfortable is maybe having all the bills automated (digitally), but then budgets are worked out by hand in a visual pie chart if that makes the person feel more comfortable.
3. LEARN FROM EACH OTHER’S STRENGTHS and figure out how to best utilize those
If your partner is great at organization, then maybe they focus on keeping the transactions and bills organized. If you are great at sticking to budgets, then maybe you focus on creating the budgets each month.
4. SHARE RESPONSIBILITY
I’m continually surprised when couples tell me that only one of them manages their finances! It’s OK if one of you shoulders more of the responsibility, but it’s still something that both of you should be fully aware of and be actively participating in. Why? Because it’s not fun to be the only one feeling stressed about getting your bills paid on time or meeting your monthly budgets. I also think that the other partner being excluded (whether intentionally or unintentionally) could start to feel inadequate as a partner, unintelligent, or not trusted enough to help. I know I would feel that way.
I know some of you could be making the argument: “It’s just easier when I handle all of it because it keeps us from arguing about it.” I will refer you to the second paragraph at the very top of this article :) There’s reasons why you are having arguments about finances, and having one person do it all is only temporarily keeping the issue from surfacing. Go through the other tips in this article and see if there’s something new you could try so the financial arguments stop.
Personal example: My husband prefers to check up on our transactions daily, understandably to make sure nothing unexpected is happening. He also set up all of our auto-pay bills and our other accounts like retirement and stocks. He has done the heavy lifting, I will admit that. But then each month when we do our financial meeting, I spear-head it. I have the computer and guide us through our list of things we check and discuss. But then we BOTH are checking everything as we go. One time we almost gave $10,000 towards charitable contributions, but because we had a second set of eyes to double check the math and catch the extra zeros, we saved a whole lot of money! haha.
**This process is new for us, we’ve been trying it for about 4 or 5 months because we were realizing that he was bearing more of the responsibility of managing our finances, and I was feeling left out. All we needed to do was re-evaluate our process, and now we don’t dread our financial meetings!
Talk about all of it! Have an open discussion about the feelings you have on your current financial plan and process. If you don’t like an aspect of it, you should both be willing to discuss changes and try something different. We’ve changed parts of our financial management probably 3 or 4 times. We find new programs we like better, we work on different financial goals over the years, and we go through financial highs and lows that sometimes require a new process.
Some things to talk about if you haven’t already:
- Favorite parts of money management
- Least favorite parts about money management
- What your strengths and weaknesses are in money management
- Needs you would like to financially address
- Wants you would like to discuss fitting into your financial plan
- Expenses you feel could be lessened or eliminated
- An emergency savings plan
- Financial goals you have
- If you want to a job or career change that affects things financially
- If you would like to try using a different book-keeping method or program
- etc. etc. etc.
Whatever it is, communicate it.
The togetherness of finance
You probably noticed that all five of these points have to do with togetherness and partnership. I believe that is the key to any money management plan in marriage. When you make large financial purchases make the decision together. When you review your finances and make sure everything is in order, do it together. Even things that seem separate can be done in a spirit of partnership. For example, every month each of you receives your own spending cash for whatever. This is a little way of having freedom to enjoy the little things as an individual, however, you’re making the decision together on how much each of you receives.
These tips have helped us so far and I hope they help you your relationship. I have felt comfort and security when we do everything as a partnership, but especially in our finances. Everyone needs income somehow in order to survive, and isn’t it a nice feeling not carrying that responsibility yourself?
If you’re like us and have had difficulty keeping gifts a secret because of your joint finances, see the article below for some tips we use for getting around that.
If you want to feel better about the changes in your grocery budgeting and not meeting your grocery budget, read this article below!