Managing Money as a Couple
First off, how do you propose setting priorities?
How much will you spend & save?
“Money’s like fuel to the fire, and that can exasperate, inflame, any other type of argument that you have.” – Erik Garcia CFP®
How often will you check up on your financial progress?
When finances affect two people rather than one, statements can become more important. Checking in on these details once a month (or at least once a quarter) may keep you both informed, so that neither one of you have misconceptions about household finances or assets. Arguments can be avoided when money misunderstandings are resolved through check ups.
What degree of independence do you want to maintain?
Do you want to keep some money separate? Some spouses need individual financial “space” of their own. There is nothing wrong with this approach.
Can you be businesslike about your finances?
Spouses who are inattentive or nonchalant about financial matters may encounter more financial trouble than they anticipate. So watch where your money goes, and think about ways to pay yourself first. Set shared short-term, medium-term, and long-term objectives.
Communication is key to all this.
Watching your progress together may well have benefits beyond the financial, so a regular conversation should be a goal.
Prevent a Rift: Money Tips for Newlyweds
10 Tips for Newly Married Couples
- Communication – Couples should consider talking about their financial goals, memories, and habits, as each partner may come into the marriage with fundamental differences in experiences and outlooks driving their behaviors.
- Set Goals – Setting goals establishes a common objective that both partners become committed to pursuing.
- Create a Budget – A budget is an exercise for developing a spending and savings plan that is designed to reflect mutually agreed upon priorities.
- Set the Foundation for Your Financial House – Identify assets and debts. Look to begin reducing debts, while building your emergency fund.
- Work Together – By sharing the financial decision-making, both spouses are vested in all choices, reducing the friction that can come from a single decision-maker.
- Set a Minimum Threshold for Big Expenses – While possessing a level of individual spending latitude is reasonable, large expenditures should only be made with both spouses’ consent. Agreeing to a purchase amount should require a mutual decision.
- Set Up Regular Meetings – Set aside a predetermined time once or twice a month to discuss finances. Talk about budgeting, upcoming expenses, and any changes in circumstances.
- Update and Revise – As a newly married couple, you may need to update the beneficiaries on your accounts, reevaluate your insurance coverage, and revise (or create) your will.3
- Love, Trust, and Honesty – Approach contentious subjects with care and understanding, be honest about money decisions you know your spouse might be upset with, and trust your spouse to be responsible with handling finances.
- Consider Speaking with a Financial Professional – A financial professional may offer insights to help you work through the critical financial decisions that all married couples face.
“It’s very difficult to be in a relationship with someone if you don’t understand their values and if you don’t understand their attitudes. Money is one of those things where I see so often that people just don’t have healthy conversations about it.” – Erik Garcia, CFP®
1. NPR.org, February 10, 2020
2. Marriage.com, June 8, 2020
3. When drafting a will, consider enlisting the help of a legal, tax, or financial professional who may be able to offer additional insight, especially if you have a large estate or complex family situation.
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