Finances are a serious matter in marriage. The way the couples handle the finances and their behavior regarding them takes the third place of reasons for divorce.
Money is usually a subject couples avoid to talk about, although they may try to be as transparent as possible.
Money is an uncomfortable topic and can cause the discord in any relationship, whether family, business or friend. However, just like most things in life, it all comes down to compromise and communication. This means that couples have to be open about their opinions about money and how they spend it.
It sounds easier than it is, unfortunately. It takes work and determination, just like with any other difficult issue. But marriage is a relationship between two people that depends on efficient communication and working on solutions together.
Frankly, it’s also about having a partner for the rest of your life that you can trust and depend on when times get tough. Therefore, here are some tips that will help you get there.
1. Talk about money before marriage
Don’t be afraid to start the conversation about money. It is an unpleasant topic, but one that can be overcome with openness and honesty. You can sit down with your partner and talk about it, or go to the premarital couple’s counseling. Just remember to pay attention to how you both act around the topic of money and handle it accordingly.
Taking care of certain issues before the marriage will save you a lot of stress, especially if they’re serious like finances. If you already live together, then you must have a certain system that works for you. But if there is a lot you are not discussing and simply wait for those issues to go away after you say “I Do”, then that is a cause for alarm.
2. Know what your partner thinks about money
We all have our own opinion about money. Some may see it as essential, while others may consider it as something not to be taken so seriously. However, money is necessary to buy food, pay the bills and have the way of life you are accustom to, just to name a few things.
If you and your partner have different views on the money, it’s time to try and find the middle ground or right the wrongs. You can be a spender and your partner a saver, or the other way around. Whatever the case, you have to find a way which will save you from financial problems.
This means that talking about money shouldn't be an obstacle. You should be open to solutions, no matter if you're the problematic one or not. Set a spending limit for a certain amount, use debit instead of credit cards or keep separate accounts for buying the things you like.
3. Be clear about money goals
It all starts with a plan. That is something that you should always think about when facing a tough decision. Finances in marriage can become hard to deal with if you don’t have mutual goals or expectations.
Even if you view the money differently, you still have to decide on the marital goals, like saving for retirement or college fund for children. These things are necessary to define right from the start and you should take them seriously. If you can’t do this on your own, hire a law firm for a prenuptial agreement which is unjustly considered as something bad.
Prenups are actually a very responsible and smart way of dealing with the issues you may see as future huge obstacles. They can define certain behaviors during marriage which will last even in case of divorce. Consider them as the way to define the things you can’t and means to resolve the uncomfortable issues. After all, it all comes down to the way you both are ready to tackle the issue in the most reasonable way.
4. Keep a record of your expenses
If you and your partner are confused where all the money goes and can’t find the cause of financial problems, it’s time to play detective. Namely, start keeping records of all your expenses even the smallest ones like bubble gums, for example. At the end of the month, collect the bills and start calculating the overall expenditure to see how much you spent.
This will give you a clear picture of where your money went and what you can simply stop buying or find a more affordable version. Of course, there will always be things open for debate or those your family simply can't do without like food, for instance. But once you know what you spend the money, you will be able to plan your finances better and buy goods from different producers or stores.
For example, instead of buying food on daily basis at the local grocery store, you can make a list of what is necessary and buy all in one shopping trip to a big supermarket. If electricity bill is too big, turn off the lights when you don’t need them and observe how you use the appliances.
5. Some small, but effective solutions
There are several ways you can both deal with finances together. Set an emergency fund in case you have a debt to settle or medical emergency, for example. Set a sum you and your partner will contribute to the fund on monthly basis and stick to it.
If you want to earn some extra cash for renovations or to travel, consider selling your old and unwanted things. You can have a yard sale, or even better sell everything online which has become a very normal thing today. Once a year you can declutter your home and put for sale everything you don't need anymore.
Create a calendar for paying bills and shopping for groceries. These are the basic things you will need, and ones which you should see to settle first in time. Regular maintenance of your car, appliances, and house, as well as repairs, will save you money too. You can clean the gutter yourself to avoid their breaking and clogging, and mow your lawn, for example.
In the end
Conversation and openness are essential for any issue in the relationship and marriage. Don’t be afraid to talk about finances and try to find solutions together. It may be an uncomfortable topic at the beginning, but after each talk, you will feel more at ease to talk to your spouse.
Neil White is a student of a digital marketing, who likes to travel a lot. While you are reading this he is probably somewhere other than where he was yesterday.