Prior to marriage, most couples take part in some kind of premarital counseling. Unfortunately, that counseling often does not cover one of the most stressful aspects of marriage—money management.
Money can be a major source of arguments in even the best relationships. The good news is that some preemptive planning can avert these kinds of disagreements.
The following four tips can help you create a long-lasting financial partnership with your spouse.
1. Get clear on the role money plays in your life and your relationship. Know what you want out of life and how money is a part of making that happen. Each of you should be prepared to answer the following questions honestly:
- How much money do I need to live comfortably?
- What do I want and need in terms of housing, social activities, children, travel, and freedom?
- With what level of debt am I willing to live?
- What is my philosophy about using credit cards?
- What am I willing to do to ensure that we have a healthy financial situation?
- What experiences from my past affect the way I view money and its role in a relationship?
- Who handled finances in my parents’ relationship? What worked or didn’t work for them?
2. Schedule a meeting to discuss—and agree on—overall goals for financial responsibility in your relationship.
- How will we make decisions about major purchases?
- Who will handle bill paying?
- How will we work through disagreements about finances?
- How will we allow individual freedom for purchases?
- What structure will we set up for managing finances? Will we use joint accounts, separate accounts, or a mix of joint and separate accounts?
3. Do not discuss long-term financial matters in the heat of an argument. When emotions are running high, neither of you will be able to think logically and you will probably say things you’ll regret later. Stop the conversation and go back to tip #1.
4. Check yourself before you make a snotty comment to your spouse about their spending habits. There’s probably a negative experience or hard feelings behind that comment. Ask yourself why you’re feeling that way, and then ask a question of your spouse to gain understanding instead of a comment to gain the upper hand.
Most importantly, discuss financial needs and wants at the beginning of your relationship, before you run into trouble. By following these simple steps prior to living together, you will be able to make sound decisions, including managing a monthly budget, buying or refinancing a home, and investing in long-term savings programs at work.
Deb Hornell has been helping individuals and companies grow and succeed for more than 25 years. Her expertise in group facilitation, leadership development, change management, and strategic planning makes her the go-to consultant for critical organizational development initiatives. She is known for designing and facilitating practical solutions to complex business challenges while honoring and engaging people in the process. Her forthcoming book will be titled Good Things for a Full Life.