Financial Advice for Couples
Tips For Managing Money Matters Within Your Relationship When Partners Have Different Money Habits
Dear April Masini,
My fiancée is really irresponsible with money and spends it like she's a bank owner. I'm really nervous that when we get married we're going to go broke if she continues spending like she is now. Do you have any advice or tips for how we can manage our money as a couple, in a way we both agree upon?
Sincerely, Marriage Money Matters"
April Masini's Advice :
Dear Marriage Money Matters,
You're right to be concerned. Marriages break up for two main reasons -- sex and money. If couples are responsible about these two things then they will have a good shot at a happy marriage. But being responsible isn't always what it seems to be because everyone has a different view of money - how to get it, how to keep it, how to spend it, and how to lose it. In addition we all bring different family histories of money to the table. So if the two of you are compatible, you're in a great starting place for money harmony, but if you're not - and it sounds like you aren't, then you have to be open and honest with your communication, and you have to do some work and make sure you have a plan in place about how you will deal with money in your marriage.
Like lust, romance comes and goes, but running a relationship is the basis for stability that allows lust and romance to settle in and stay. A shaky basis makes lust and romance foreign acquaintances to marriage. The same goes for money. If you have an understanding and a process for dealing with money matters, you're more likely to handle discrepancies and differences between you, more harmoniously.
Money is a fact of marriage. You need it to live. So running a marriage means that money must be managed. There are many creative ways to structure your money management within a couple.
Manage Your Money as a Couple
1. Make all decisions equilaterally.
This works great for some couples and not so great for others. It requires enough time for you to be able to sit down and discuss all money issues together, and to make all decisions together. The more different you are, the more time this process will take, but it will make you feel like you have control over the way money is handled in your marriage.
2. Delegate responsibility and communicate regularly.
Give one of you responsibility for paying bills, and the other the responsibility for balancing the checkbook, for example. One person can be responsible for making the family budget while the other can be responsible for making sure the budget is met each month. There are lots of ways to delegate responsibilities. Basically, they involve figuring out what the responsibilities are, assigning them to each person, and then meeting weekly or bi-weekly - whatever works for you - to share information with each other about what is working, what isn't working, and what adjustments will be made.
3. Assign unilateral money management to one partner.
Some couples like to keep their money separate with separate bank accounts and checking accounts, and have complete responsibility for their own money and their own expenses.
There is no right or wrong way to do this -- there are only ways that are compatible to yours and your spouse’s personalities and others that are not suitable for you as a couple.
When Partners Have Different Money Habits
The number one tip you can follow is to make sure you don't expect your partner to have the same money habits as you do. This can be difficult for some people who just assume there is only one way to do things.
Here are some tools to help you with differences:
1. Make time to discuss differences other than when a squabble is actually happening.
Put aside a regular time to meet in a neutral location -- not the bedroom! -- and discuss money issues. You should do this regularly, whether you’re having problems or not. That way you won’t associate these meetings with just problems. They should be thought of as update meetings as well as problem solving meetings.
2. Do not make personal attacks when discussing differences in handling money.
Don’t say, "You’re just like your mother with money." or "You’re such a tightwad." These statements are not problem solving statements. In fact, they are inflaming statements, and will take you away from a solution and towards a fight. Keep your statements either "I” statements instead of "You” statements. And keep them neutral and factual.
3. Instead of looking for ways to limit him or her in behavior, look for ways to protect your own interests.
For example, if you’re a saver, and your spouse or partner is a spender, consider asking to have your needs met: ”I would really feel safe if I knew we put away 10% of our weekly income for a rainy day,” is more of a problem solving statement than, ”Your spending is making me crazy.”
And last but not least, don't forget to break all the financial tension with some love and sex that reminds you why you're together in the first place, because one of the cardinal rules of money management is balance.