Saving Money and Marriage
Money is a tricky subject in any marriage. Couples rarely enter into a marriage with the same financial goals and values. Differences are bound to arise from disparity of their individual incomes and spending habits. Couples may think that money should not get in the way of love and avoid talking about it until resentment builds up over time and erupts in a nasty fight.
Marriage is a commitment to merge two lives together – finances included. It takes time, a lot of sensitivity and honest communication to find a system that would be comfortable for husband and wife. Ultimately, financial decisions big or small should be made as a team.
Talk openly about money
Get to know your partner even before marriage in all aspects of his or her character. Chances are how he manages his money will say a lot about his priorities and long term goals. Since marriage is merging two lives together, your life goals should be generally headed in the same direction.
Your partner may also associate money with certain values like self esteem, success, and security. Talking about money is a good opportunity to assess if there are differences in beliefs that could be an issue later in the relationship.
At any stage in the marriage, keep an open communication on money matters. When couples do fight about money, most of the time it’s not just about money. It could be a failure to communicate decisions and compromise.
Talk about the financial side of shared goals
Once you understand each other’s views and values about money, formulate a strategy how you can both manage day to day expenses and long term goals. Buying a car, buying a house, where to live, having children, saving up for their college education, saving up for retirement are all financial decisions. It may not be romantic to lay out financial plans, but these financial decisions require teamwork.
Set attainable goals for your finances as well, both for the short term and long term.
Utilities, petrol, groceries, and insurance are shared costs. Agree on how much each partner will contribute to these recurring expenses and honor that agreement. Make sure that the agreement is fair to both partners, especially if the income is unequal.
Communicate your needs
A working wife may need a new dress for use in regular corporate events. A husband may stick to a brand of perfume which is a little pricey. Gently and lovingly communicate your needs and keep an open mind. Understand where your spouse is coming from if he sees your needs as unnecessary wants and vice versa.
Set a discretionary amount
Managing your finances as a team does not necessarily mean accounting each dollar you spend. After you cover the budget for the essentials and savings, you can agree on how much of your partner’s remaining income he can spend as he wishes without having to explain.
Recognize each other’s money skills
The spouse with the greater income is not necessarily the one with better money skills. One spouse may handle the day to day expenses while one may handle investing the retirement fund. However, make it a point to still make decisions together to avoid pointing fingers afterward.
A higher income should not equate to more influence over decisions in a relationship either. Never leverage on your income so you can have a final say in decision-making.
Make money discussions fun
Schedule regular money talks to assess the status of your finances, but these appointments don’t have to be dreary. Talk about finances over a short picnic, while cooking dinner, or a walk to the local park. Do not wait for the bills to an unexpected credit card debt to arrive in the mailbox before you sit down and talk about it.
Support each other through ups and downs
If the husband (or wife) suddenly loses his job or other sources of income, offer to shoulder more expenses until he gets back on his feet. In these cases, the couple working as a team could weather the storms better than each one working alone because of their joined resources.
A loving marriage should never revolve around money, but money is an inevitable aspect of married life. There is no right or wrong way in dealing with money in marriage. What works for one couple may not work for another. Money in itself is not evil; if managed right it can significantly enrich the relationship as the couple works towards common goals.