Managing Money In A Marriage

Managing Money in A Marriage – Can It Be Done Successfully?

Managing money in a marriagePinIt’s a proven fact that when it comes to managing money, very few couples are soul mates. One of you will be a saver and the other will be a spender. In conjunction with that, one is more conservative while the other is probably more prone to be more of a risk taker. Taking those facts into account, both are convinced that their way of thinking is the right way. Wow!

Is it any wonder that discussions related to managing money can quickly erupt into an argument? How in the world does one diffuse a powder keg like that? There is a way that a couple can come to an agreement on managing money that will be acceptable to both.

First of all, understand that no one agrees with the other on all matters, and its okay to disagree on certain issues. When it comes to managing money, there is always room for more than one idea. One individual, more than likely, will not always have the correct solution every time.

The most important thing to remember is to keep an open mind, and let the other spouse communicate their ideas. And don’t become critical or cynical if you disagree. No married couple is in complete agreement, on all issues, especially managing money, all of the time. Furthermore, you don’t have to be.

It’s essential that each partners feelings about managing money is treated with respect and understanding. If not, you’ll be hard pressed to formulate a budget or a spending plan that you both can live with and follow. The idea is to give and take until both partners are comfortable and satisfied.

For instance, if the one who is a saver needs to be financially secure in order to be happy, then the couple should allocate a certain amount of money each month for savings. Conversely, if the one who is the spender is only happy when he/she is able to really enjoy life, then a certain amount should be budgeted for a few fun purchases.

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The couple, however, needs to come to an agreement on certain important financial goals such as retirement funding, providing college funds for the children, and perhaps an annual vacation that can put a spark back into the marriage.

Above all, the couple needs to have space for a feeling of individual independence.  Each spouse should have a small amount of money that they can spend or save without having to consult the other. They can do this by having a small individual account in their own name.

A joint account to cover household expenses plus the long term goals such as retirement and college can be maintained with each contributing.

It’s generally a good idea for each spouse to establish their own individual credit record in the event they have to borrow individually one day. That can be accomplished by maintaining one credit card individually and then a joint card for household expenses.

When it comes to actually paying the bills, the couple needs to establish a system that is fair to both. Many couples establish a joint checking account to pay the various household expenses with each making a contribution based on some formula.

Other couples divide the bills and then pay them from their own individual accounts.  No one system is correct. Whatever the couple agrees on and is comfortable for both is the one that should be used. Managing money is not rocket science, its common sense.

No matter what system is used, it’s important that the contribution to a joint checking account, or dividing up the bills, is equitable. Usually the fairest method is to base it on each individual’s income as a percentage of the total.

Investing should also be done as a team. If you each have retirement accounts at your employer, you can decide together on the portfolio mix. If investing doesn’t feel comfortable, it might be a good idea to meet with a financial planner who can handle this for you.

Having mentioned the above, the most important is communication. This sounds easy to do, but in fact, it is usually very hard. Many couples become so busy with work, raising the family, etc, and they barely have any time to talk to each other.

When it comes to managing money, a couple should schedule meetings throughout the year just to discuss the family finances. During these meetings, both spouses must feel free and comfortable to voice their opinions without any critical responses from the other spouse. As we stated earlier, you should agree to disagree on some issues.

Managing money in a marriage is likened to a financial partnership, and as such, can only be successful if it’s based on cooperation and a lot of compromise.

Gust Lenglet
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15 responses to “Managing Money In A Marriage”

  1. Avatar of Phil Phil says:

    You’re absolutely right when you say that money is one of the most difficult things to deal with in a marriage. It feels like money is such a central part of our lives these days that people feel more strongly about it than anything else… and in marriages it often looks like people care about money more than each other! I can’t say that my wife and I always see eye to eye, but I have seen a few of my friends get divorced over their wives’ ridiculous spending habits, thinking that it was the only way to save their financial future… and a few suck it up and stick with otherwise terrible marriages because they were afraid of what a divorce would cost.

    • Avatar of Melissa Mack Melissa Mack says:

      My husband and I really try to tackle our finances and I think that’s why we’ve had such a marriage success so far. Savings account and everything for our future expenses too!!!

  2. Avatar of Kathleen Kathleen says:

    I definitely agree! This was a major sticking point with my ex and I. I would spend time finding ways to save money around the house and when shopping, he would then blow the money I had spent the time to save. The tips here are excellent.

  3. Avatar of ed pierce ed pierce says:

    I think you hit the nail right on the head with this post. You have actually cleared up some things for me as well. No matter how much money you have, there will always be different opinions and arguments.

  4. I have been having the same argument with my husband for the past 15 years. Apparently it’s ok for him to rack up what he calls “good debt” (mortgage, property- which I agree/understand) , but If I buy groceries on a credit card and he sees the bill, he freaks out even though I pay the whole bill so we don’t pay interest. It’s like, he’s the only one allowed to have any debt. It makes it very difficult for me to be honest with him about my finances because I feel he’s so unreasonable. Everyone has a credit card which they use for personals and incidentals. What’s the problem?

  5. Avatar of Mandy Mandy says:

    Good Advice. The key notes which i have made for myself create a monthly budget and stick to it, Save six months’ worth of living expenses in a bank account for emergencies only. Set up a Health Savings Account (HSA) and start a Donor Advised Fund Account (DAF). Would you like to add something?

  6. Avatar of Kalista A Kalista A says:

    As someone who has been married twice, and was destitute at the end of BOTH of them, I’ll say this: SEPARATE BANK ACCOUNTS! And that means separate savings accounts, as well. If you stay together, fantastic. If you don’t, it will be easier to move on, at least financially. And while married, it gives each person a feeling of control over how they manage their life and invest in the things they they value as an individual.

  7. Avatar of bizarrio bizarrio says:

    I definitely believe it is possible to manage money successfully in a marriage, provided husband and wife make the right decisions.

    Both partners should have separate bank accounts, credit cards, saving accounts – that way they both can do whatever they want.

    • Avatar of Gust Gust says:

      That might work for some, but not all. Your last comment saying “they can do whatever they want”, could lead to many more problems. It might be better to say that they will have equal voice in all decision making that affects the couple. After all, they are married.

  8. Avatar of Jerry Jerry says:

    Managing money in marriage is usually very cumbersome, but if both parties understand each other very well, it will really help the couples financial status. My wife is better at it than I am, so she takes care of all our finances.

  9. Avatar of Annabeth Annabeth says:

    My husband and I operate as we did before marriage. We have separate accounts, though we now have a joint savings account for future plans… like babies, renovations and other expenses. (It was the perfect place to put our wedding gift money.) He’s so smart with money, though, I’d love for us to have ONE account. Maybe in the future. I just really want to tackle my finances before we combine things, though.

  10. Avatar of Jessica Jessica says:

    This is a great article. I had actually just written an article on marriage yesterday on my own blog. These are great tips and some of them are tips that we use ourselves. We decided when we got married that my husband would be in charge of the finances. He’s the one that sits down to pay the bills each month, we just have one joint account, and all other financial decisions and purchases are made jointly. It works good for us this way, and we both work hard to save money and not to spend overzealously or live beyond our means (though sometimes it happens with unexpected car or medical bills).

    Thanks for another great read!

  11. Avatar of Dalia L. Dalia L. says:

    I’m a bride-to-be, and I’ll definitely be sharing this post with my fiancée. In our relationship, I have to admit that I’m the spender, while he is more frugal. We will work hard to stay respectful of one another. Thanks for the tips!

  12. Avatar of Kenz Kenz says:

    I can validate that each spouse having an account in their own name works wonders. This keeps my hubby and I from stepping on each other’s toes – too much! ;)

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