Hey, “Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems,” right? Okay, that’s not always true, but not talking about your money can definitely create more problems.
In fact, with finances ranking as one of the leading causes of divorce, it’s incredibly important to address how you’ll handle money in your marriage.
Here are 4 things every couple should discuss before getting married.
Talk About Where You Currently Stand Financially
Until you say, “I do,” you’re still considered single. That means you could both be at a different place in your financial journey.
Sit down and talk about your financial snapshot. How much money do you have in your bank accounts? How much debt do you have? Are you behind on any bills? Even though it can be hard to admit some of these things, it’s a good idea to get it out in the open before joining your finances. There’s nothing worse than coming home from the honeymoon with a bunch of financial surprises.
Talk About How You’ll Handle Your Spending
One of the most common things people argue about in a marriage is money. More specifically, how they spend money.
Too often one spouse feels like the parent in the relationship. They either give their significant other an allowance, or are constantly checking in and questioning the things they bought. This can lead to a high level of resentment and a lot of arguments.
Decide ahead of time how you’ll handle your spending. I highly recommend have a monthly spending plan, or a budget. This will ensure that you are both in agreement on how your money will be spent. Once you put your spending plan in writing, both spouses need to agree to stick to it.
Another good idea is to give yourselves some pocket money each month. Allocate a certain amount of money that you each get to spend on anything you like. This means you don’t have to ask your spouse before buying that shirt or getting that pedicure. Since it’s in the budget for you to spend, you can spend it guilt-free!
So how is having pocket money different than an allowance? Instead of one spouse telling the other what they can spend, you’re both setting the number and agreeing to it together. Each of you has an equal voice in how the money is being used.
Talk About Your Views on Debt
As a financial coach, I’ve worked with a lot of couples on their money. Some couples are totally on the same page and ready to get their finances in order. Others may be struggling to get the ball moving. Of the couples that struggle, there’s usually a common theme that I’ve run into. One spouse is desperate to eliminate debt while the other doesn’t view debt as a big deal.
Debt can cause a lot of financial strain on a marriage. Large balances and payments can add unnecessary stress to even a seasoned relationship. Personally, I would recommend staying away from it completely.
My beliefs on debt aside, you have to decide how you’ll handle it in your marriage. Do you think debt is a big deal? What debts are “okay” and which ones aren’t? Will you avoid it completely or only use it for big purchases?
Talk About What You’ll Do if Family Asks for Money
Ooh, did that one make you cringe? This can be a touchy subject. I’ve seen so many situations where a financially dependent family member can put an extra strain on a marriage by asking to borrow some money.
In the heat of the moment, emotions can trump rational thought. We often make decisions out of guilt that we normally wouldn’t make. To make it worse, these decisions can sometimes create a wedge between you and your spouse.
I’m not saying giving a family member money is a bad thing. There are way too many scenarios for me to make a blanket statement like that. However, it’s a good idea to talk about how you’ll handle this situation if it were to arise. Figure out your boundaries before the moment comes and emotion clouds your judgement. What family members would you suspect might ask for money? How will you handle it if they do? Having a game plan can make the situation smoother and keep you and your spouse on the same team.
The key to a successful marriage is communication. Opening a conversation about these topics will keep you and your spouse on the same page.
I work with newlywed couples to help them not only answer these questions, but create a detailed plan for how they’ll manage their money together. If you’d like to create a plan that will set you up to win with money, sign up for a free “Financial Kickstart” coaching session!