8 Tips For Managing Money With Your Spouse
Money can be a huge source of contention between married couples. Due to different backgrounds, personalities, and behaviors, spending habits be much different between a husband and wife and can lead to bitterness, lack of trust, and an erosion of the relationship.
If you want to develop a harmonious relationship with money management with your significant other, consider the following tips.
Create a Budget Together
If you’re living in the same home, there is absolutely no reason why you should be operating without a budget. Tracking how much money is coming into the household each month and where it needs to be spent is crucial when it comes to money management.
Once you determine what is left over after all the necessities are paid for, you can then decide together what to spend the leftover money on, or if you should save it for retirement or larger expenses down the road.
Consider Having Three Bank Accounts
Couples have very different ideas on sharing bank accounts. Some want to share everything while others prefer to keep their money separate.
In many cases, the best compromise is to have three accounts: one that is shared and where a portion of each paycheck goes to cover living expenses, then one personal account for each member of the couple.
That way, discretionary funds can be split and spent the way each individual prefers without them feeling they have to justify each purchase.
Use the 24-Hour Rule
Are you or your spouse an impulse buyer? If so, it could lead to a depletion of your discretionary funds — and plenty of fights.
One way to overcome this is to use the 24-Hour Rule. This means that if either of you sees something you’d like to buy that isn’t in the budget, you must wait a full day before you can buy it.
This often reduces the impulse and also gives you a chance to talk to your partner about the purchase before it’s made. If either of you still wants the item after 24 hours — and your partner agrees on the purchase — you’re free to go back and buy the item that caught your eye.
Designate One Person as the “Lead”
It’s usually unrealistic to think that both members of a couple will equally split financial duties. One member of the couple is probably more interested in budgeting while the other is content to go with the flow (to a point).
Designating a “point person” or “lead” ensures that things get done. Decide what works best in your unique situation but always remember that designating a lead is not an excuse for lack of communication between partners.
Agree to Discretionary Spending Rules
Many couples do okay when it comes to budgeting for the “musts” like paying bills, buying groceries, and putting a set amount into retirement each month.
The problems often start when it comes to the “leftover” money. One member of the couple may want to spend it on weekend outings while the other wants to put more into the IRA.
That’s why it’s key to come up with rules on how this will be spent ahead of time. Sometimes it works best to split the leftover funds in half and let each member do with their share what they want. The important thing is that it’s agreed on ahead of time so there is no bitterness or misunderstanding.
Always Meet with Your Financial Advisor Together
You may be tempted to split the duty of meeting with your financial planner — especially if one of you is more interested in finances than the other.
This is a mistake, though, as you both need to be present when big decisions are made. Even if one spouse does most of the talking in these meetings, it’s crucial that you are both in the room.
This reduces the chance for miscommunication and ensures that you are both on the same page with your financial goals.
Take Personality Differences into Consideration
It’s important to realize that no two individuals are exactly alike when it comes to their beliefs about money. Just because your spouse thinks differently about spending or saving than you do doesn’t mean you’re a poor fit or destined for divorce.
Instead, realize that your different personalities mean that you can help each other and be strong where the other is weak. When you work together on finances and use it as a way to more deeply understand your spouse, you strengthen your relationship as well as increase your chances for financial success.
Money doesn’t have to be a source of contention between couples. When you respect each other and put some pre-planning into place, you can develop a good financial strategy together and ensure harmony in your home.