The #1 question I typically get when it comes to money aside form paying off debt is what does a couple do with money?
How does a husband and wife manage their money together?
While the above feels like the beginning of a really bad rap song, at the end of the day it is YOUR money.
But when you are a husband and wife or wife and husband – it is Y'ALL'S money.
And I honestly believe until that bridge is crossed… or that leap of faith is taken, money will always be a not so good topic of conversation in your marriage (feel free to insert relationship for the remainder of this blog post, but ill be using marriage).
Money and Marriage: A His & Her Money Short Story
I will tell you a short story about some acquaintances my wife and I know.
This young couple was newly married when we first met and had actually gotten married pretty young. The two of them were awesome people to be around and always a fun time from our outside perspective.
After asking Lauren to marry me in the summer of 2016 I ran into this individual and somehow we started discussing our recent engagement. As we talked about marriage and things of nature, the question about money came up.
I asked him point-blank, because I am an inquisitive person, how he and his wife handle their money?
Here was his response in a nutshell, “I pay for my stuff, car, etc, she pays for hers. Then we both throw money into a shared account for house bills.” He went on to say that they just didn't want to have arguments about money.
And I get it, I really do, you think you are doing what is best to avoid the TABOO and TOUGH talk about money.
But having the talk about money has to be done!!!
Sidenote: Last I heard this same couple was no longer together. No clue why so I can't insinuate it was because of money. But if I was a fly on the wall, I bet money was least one element as to why the marriage didn't last.
Financial Communication Isn't Taboo
It's funny that people think money is taboo, yet those same people can:
Post half nude photos of themselves at the gym or a night out on the town on Instagram and they're celebrated…
Or they can masquerade around displaying whatever material wealth (I think of new payment traps like cars) is important to them and people say things like congrats or that is awesome.
But how would people respond to your post on social media about how you and your spouse are on a budget. Or how would people think if you took a screenshot of your personal capital net-worth and it showed a positive number?
You would get scolded. Not that it really matters what other people think, but how dare you talk about money with one another. Heck, it is almost “Taboo” to talk about money with anyone… even your spouse.
Then again, no one ever said the conversations in our lives have to be easy.
If you are already Married, talk about money ASAP
Grab your spouse, sit down and have an open conversation about money.
Ask questions about long term goals you have as a couple. Talk about being on the same page as a couple. Start to come up with a plan to combine your finances.
Whatever the sticking point is on having separate accounts is get over it. Usually, it is because someone in the relationships doesn't want to judge the other's spending…
HUGE RED FLAG.
If you feel like you will judge their spending in a joint account, doesn't that mean you are judging the spending of their own money, it is just in a separate account?
Let's get real here… it is really just a matter of putting off the hard conversation so it is easier to let the other person sort of do what they want with their money and its good as long as the bills are paid and you turn a blind eye to it.
That is how I personally wound up with a $35,000 2015 GMC Sierra. I took my separate savings account and the title to my paid off Civic and I came home with the gas-guzzling, personal property tax destroying, money pit… I mean my truck.
And yes that might be an extreme example and little different then if my wife came home with a Loft or Ann Taylor bag every weekend, but the reason I made this choice…
I was only accountable to myself.
“Josh, you are wrong, I am accountable to my significant other, I just like having my separate account and we don't like discussing money. “
If you are accountable to each other then why not have a checks and balances system in place?
Why not have monthly meetings to discuss how your budget went or areas you can improve?
When I bought my truck I justified every single reason in my own head why it made sense. I was convinced I deserved it, I had never bought a new car EVER, and my girlfriend (now wife) would be proud of me.
Really, because we weren't even engaged, she was questioning me inside her head. She didn't have to say it, but she was wondering is he going to make decisions like this without me forever?
I will be very honest – this whole “Husband Wife Money” subject is sensitive for most people and most marriages. Which is why I so boldly stand on the grounds that you need to do husband-wife money things TOGETHER.
This is close to my heart because at the end of the day I personally think marriage is being built on shaky grounds if money isn't done together. And I get it, for every 1 couple that does an amazing job working together with separate financial lives there about 100 who don't!
If you don't believe me just look at divorce statistics and the root causes – finances and communication.
So if we can kill two birds with one stone so to speak, wouldn't be worth the talk? Wouldn't be worth building a strong marriage and a strong foundation together?
It breaks my heart when I see couples on completely opposite pages when it comes to money.
He does his thing, she does her thing. He wants to spend money and she wants to save it. She wants to spend it and he wants to pay off the credit cards. In all honesty, these types of conversation should have been had before the words, “I do” ever came out of each other's mouths.
But if you are past that point, then take your loved one to Panera or Starbucks, grab some coffee and just have a conversation… YOUR FUTURE SELVES WILL BE GLAD YOU DID!
Q: Should married couples do money together?
Josh writes about ways to make money, pay off debt, and improve yourself. After paying off $300,000 in student loans with his wife in less than five years, Josh started Money Life Wax and has been featured on Forbes, Business Insider, Huffington Post, and more! In addition to being a life-long entrepreneur, Josh and his wife enjoy spending time with their chocolate lab named Morgan, working out, being outside, traveling, and helping others with their finances! I got serious with money when I used Personal Capital to track my finances.