This topic is a common one that is often skimmed over in marriage classes. And it’s certainly not taught in school.
Many of us who are married or living together know that money is an important issue that comes up in relationships.
If you are on the same page as your spouse in regards to how you spend, save and invest your money, then congratulations! Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re the minority.
This post is not just for those who are about to get married. This post is also for those who are already married and may be struggling to see eye-to-eye with their spouse on money.
Yes – call me crazy, but by popular request, we’re going there! We’re going to talk marriage and money.
My own personal experience
Now I’ll start with a big caveat – I’m not a professional when it comes to marriage discussions – I myself am a work in progress! 🙂 But I can share with you openly the challenges my wife and I faced, and how we overcame them.
When I got married, my wife and I discussed how we planned on managing our money. We agreed on many things in this area. The only hesitation she had was joining our bank accounts. At first, I couldn’t understand why.
From her perspective, she had lived on her own for over eight years and was successful in her career. She had never had to join bank accounts with anyone or even discuss what she spent. She had managed her money well and merging accounts was a new thing for her. At no point was she worried about sharing all her banking details, but the idea of blending them was just new!
I could see where she was coming from. Getting married is a big deal. There’s a lot of newness! And as you bring together all elements of your life, things can be different!
We discussed the hesitation, and it was not a matter of trust, it was a matter of independence.
The lessons we learned
Each person is different and how you are raised is often reflected in how you view many things in your life – including your finances.
For my wife, she was brought up to be a strong, self-sufficient woman and this whole married to me thing was new! We soon pooled everything together, including debts, savings, and investments.
My financial background and my wife’s financial independence allowed us to have an open and honest conversation about how we viewed our finances and come to an agreement on how we handle money.
Nowadays, we live in a world that is so independent. For the most part, it’s a good thing, but it can cause its challenges!
You can get by in life and not need to rely on or agree with anyone if you don’t want to. This is very different in a marriage. To have a successful marriage, it takes compromise, honesty, and self-awareness (among other things). This becomes even more evident when dealing with your finances as a couple.
By opening yourself to this sometimes tricky conversation early on in your relationship, a lot of the fog can be lifted, and some hardships can be avoided.
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Key things to talk about
Now for the juicy stuff. What are the things you should talk through? Based on our experience, and conversations with other close friends, here are some things I’d recommend you cover:
This one is #1 for a reason. It can be a significant pain-point for some people. It can bring up guilt, shame or stress.
Put EVERYTHING on the table. Credit cards, loans, car payments, even the interest-free loan your parents gave you for school.
Be open and honest about your debt. Many of us have made good and bad financial decisions in our lives. And some debt can’t be avoided (such as tuition or some medical bills). Discuss each debt with your future spouse. Both of you deserve to know what the other person owes. Wouldn’t you want to know if your spouse owes money before you get married?
Related post: How the rich use debt differently
Views on Saving
How does each of you view savings?
Is one person a saver, while the other spends constantly?
Be honest with yourself and each other. Find a middle ground where you can both agree on how to spend your money. There are ways to compromise in this area. Do not be stuck in your ways. If needed, allow for some flexibility in your budget to allow for some extra spending. And if someone struggles in this area, be open to talking through it. You’re in this together!
Related post: Learn how to pay yourself first and save more money
Discuss your financial goals with each other.
What are some of your financial dreams?
Do you want to travel every year?
Do you want to have your mortgage paid off at a particular time?
Or maybe you want to max out on your retirement account and have a nice nest egg for the future.
Whatever the goal is, discuss it with your spouse so that you are both aware of which direction you are headed. Only when you’re aligned can you both work towards it!
Related post: The 7 biggest financial mistakes of the middle class
How do you view retirement?
This may seem like an easy topic for some. I’m sure many people will say they want to retire early, debt-free and not have to work. While this is great, think broader!
When do you WANT to retire vs. when CAN you retire? How do you view retirement? Will you travel? Do you see yourself in the same house? Same neighborhood?
For me, I don’t see myself sitting at home and doing nothing when I retire. I plan on continuing to work (in some capacity or volunteering). While I don’t know what this will look like, I know that I enjoy keeping busy and being productive! It’s important for my wife to know that. Each person’s view of retirement is different, know what your spouse thinks of it and share your thoughts too!
Decide on your financial roles
I did not learn this in school, and it was briefly mentioned in our marriage class. But this is such an essential part of managing your finances!
Usually, the person with the most financial knowledge takes on this role. In my house, this is me. But this is not a hard rule that you have to follow.
If you are financially savvy but have no time to pay bills, create a budget or look into investments, then perhaps your spouse should be in charge of the money.
Whoever is in charge needs to make it a priority and take their role seriously. Your spouse has entrusted you with this task, and it is crucial!
Related post: The one thing most people forget when budgeting
Talking about money is never easy. Sometimes we avoid the topic altogether and hope it never comes up. But you and I know that money can sometimes create stress. Why not deal with this issue before it has a chance to become an issue!
Whether you’re getting married or have been married for a long time, take the time to talk through these topics. Getting on the same page is always important, and even more so when it comes to money!
Think it through
- How do you describe your spending? Is your spouse like you?
- What are some of the financial goals you agree on with your spouse? What do you disagree on?
- What are some things you can do to get on the same page?
- Learn how to pay yourself first and save more money
- The high cost of waiting to invest – why are you waiting?
- How the rich use debt differently
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