Financial issues are one of the main causes of conflict in marriage. Possible reasons could include the fact that almost half of married couples admit to not discussing finances before marriage. Avoiding the topic of finances makes it difficult to make plans or resolve issues.
Couples must decide whether to share finances or keep them separate. There are many options and no right or wrong choice. This decision will depend on their preferences. Some feel that separate accounts allow for more autonomy, others appreciate the simplicity of a joint account. A great deal of trust and accountability is essential for completely joint finances to be problem free. There is the third alternative of having both a joint account and separate accounts. The joint account can be used for common or family expenses like, rent or mortgage, food, bills and the separate accounts can be used for personal expenditures.
Couples also have to consider spending styles. Are they savers or spenders? If the both have similar spending styles, there will probably be less conflict about money. It is possible that if both are savers, they may have a big bank account and not a lot of excitement in their life. It is also possible if both are spenders that they may too frequently teeter on the edge of financial ruin. Taking on too much debt, credit card or otherwise, can put a lot of stress on the relationship.
Whatever the spending styles, it helps to have written financial goals. It also helps to decide how much each can spend without consulting the other. Some couples choose to have slush funds that they can each spend however they wish.
Money means different things to different people. To some money equals security; they find that they need to have their financial cushion in order to feel safe. To others money represents status or fun, they either need to spend money on things to feel important or experiences to enjoy life. Understanding what money means to you and your partner; may help you to take a step back and recognize the emotions behind the money. When couples take the emotion out of the picture, money can become a tool that they use together to help them create the life they want.
Some advice for financial bliss in marriage:
- Keep track of spending (budget) – this allows for informed decisions about finances. If you do not know where your money is going, you will not be able to fix possible problem areas.
- Talk regularly about money – it is important to work together as a team.
- Save consistently – a good rule of thumb is to save 10%.
- Spend less than you earn.
- Avoid debt as much as possible.
- Be open and honest – avoid hiding purchases or keeping financial secrets.
- Make an effort to see money as a tool to help you reach couple and individual goals.
- Count the real cost of purchases – when deciding to get that new TV on credit, make sure to calculate all the interest charges and make a decision based on the real cost.
Whatever choices couples make about how to arrange and spend their money, seeing money as a tool, working as a team and talking about their finances, can increase their chances for marital bliss.