Money is sometimes viewed as taboo – especially when it comes to relationships. Just the thought about money and talking with your significant other can be scary.
But, it might be the most important conversation you need to have as a couple. For starters, money is typically the cause of about half of all divorces. Regularly, finances can be a source of friction in relationships.
So if money is such a problem for most couples, why don’t more people take action in regards to making sure they are financially on the same page?
Lauren and I have been able to pay off $57,000 worth of student loans in 2017 because we are on the same page. But that wasn’t always the case!
Most of our upbringing we are taught different lessons about money, depending on how we were raised. Humans are naturally selfish when it comes finances. Due to some of the innate selfishness, sometimes couples have trouble getting on the same page with regards to their finances.
If you were to talk to couples who have really healthy financial relationships they would most likely share these traits:
1 They don’t have separate accounts.
2 They don’t hold money secrets.
3 They don’t point the finger about previous debt at one another.
A marriage is lifetime union between two people. Holding financial secrets or keeping separate accounts can lead to unnecessary friction and stress. Bringing up the other’s debt is unnecessary and accomplishes nothing. Prior to getting married you should have had discussions about money.
In all marriages trust is vital to having a healthy, happy, and awesome marriage. For starters, take this quick 10 question quiz to gauge your personal viewpoints on finances and marriage.
Here is short list of what all couples should do in order to keep a healthy relationship, especially when it comes to money!
1. Plan Together
The first thing all couples should do, whether engaged, married, or not even close to marriage, is lay it all out and make a plan. Do you intend to pay off debt? Or maybe you want to create an emergency fund.
Regardless, having a plan that extends longer then a couple months will only help. Providing security for your future family or existing family is something most couples strive to achieve. In order to figure out a plan that fits best for you just have a general discussion one weekend.
2. Have Goals Together
What are your long term goals? Referring to the first bullet above, do you have a 1, 5, 10 year plan for your family?
Sharing common goals with one another is essential in ensuring that financially everything goes well. While there will be hiccups and growing pains, goals will help you stay true to your plan and draw you closer to your spouse.
Start with some small goals such as paying off consumer debt or creating a 3 month emergency fund. Overtime you can adjust and add on as you accomplish your goals.
3. Budget Together
The magic starts with a great budget. A potential pitfall in a relationship is when one person is not on the same page as the other and is spending frivolously. It can cause unnecessary high volume discussions… that could easily have been avoided.
One recommendation, pay yourself first with regards to your goals, then have a discretionary spending fund for each person.
Read the Budget Sheet Steps we outlined in our get out of debt post. Start by filling out a budget sheet that is in line with your goals!
4. Discuss Monthly
Revisit your plan, goals, and budget monthly. A 20 minute conversation can be the difference between in a really happy, awesome relationship and a not so good one.
Communication is key in all relationships and is a major complaint among spouses. While getting together monthly might seem a bit much, truthfully, you can not afford not to meet monthly to review progress.
This is when you can also talk about adjustments, concerns, and future plans!
Not married yet? Read how to save on your marriage with these 9 Wedding Saving Tips!
5. Don’t Be Defensive
If you are the person (like we can all be at times) who sometimes does something silly (like buying a brand new truck without telling anyone) don’t get defensive if your spouse has a concern. Sometimes admitting mistakes will actually gain more trust from your spouse then becoming defensive about what you did.
When one partner brings up a financial issue in your monthly discussion, don’t get defensive. Learn to compromise.
With many varying viewpoints and ideas out there with regards to how a couple should manage their finances, what it really boils down to is compromise.
Along with communicating and having a plan, compromise and meeting in the middle is what marriage is all about.
Don’t focus on what the other person did wrong, instead be solution seeking. See where you can compromise.
This point and the next might be the most important. Some people may have different views on how to handle finances. Working together and coming up with a strategy that you both agree on is imperative.
7. Find a Mentor
Find a what? Though you might find this interesting, you need to find a couple who exhibits a healthy financial marriage that you can look to in times of need.
This doesn’t have to be parents or family, in fact it might be better to learn from someone outside of your normal sphere of influence.
A lot can be said these days for couples who have been married over 20 years. With divorce rates so high, finding a marriage mentor is an absolute must.
Like anything, working through the highs and lows is always better when you have someone to console and learn from.
8. Emergency Planning
Last but not least, you need to have an emergency plan. As much as we might all want to avoid this one, planning for the worst and hoping for the best is important.
Start with saving up an emergency fund that is about 3-6 months worth of expenses. Next pay off your debt, which is also another way to grow your marriage and reduce stress.
After you have an emergency fund and you are debt free, consider really long term planning such as life insurance and legal matters. While this is not on the forefront for most couples, it doesn’t mean it isn’t vital!
Like anything, all of this sounds great on paper, but in actuality it comes down to taking some action. If you are not married yet I would highly recommend premarital counseling as out mentor recommend to us.
Be open about your finances, share your goals, and grow together! If Lauren and I never got on the same page I can assure you our finances would stink, we would argue more, and we wouldn’t be as happy. This is one thing we love about personal finance – helping other couples! Hope you enjoyed!
Q: What is one piece of financial advice you can give to a couple or that has worked for you?