You’re a newlywed and loving every moment of it. You’re in love, you’re getting used to the married life - it’s a new chapter in both of your lives. (Or maybe, you’re newly engaged and are looking to start building your financial life together now -- good for you!) As a married couple, now you have new challenges ahead of you that you may not have had when you were single. Of course, when you’re single, you pay for yourself and that’s it, you’re the only one managing your money.
One of the biggest issues in couples is finances - marriage and money go hand-in-hand. We know that you don’t want to be one of those couples that argue about money and you don’t have to be. But this means that you’re going to have to make conscious steps in order to be successful. No worries, this blog post is a great place to start. We’re letting you know 11 simple ways to improve your financial life in your marriage. Do 1 of them or all 11, and you’ll make progress!
#1 // Hide nothing
This isn’t the time to hide information from your spouse. Actually, it’s never time to hide information unless it’s for a surprise party. Before even getting married, you and your partner should have talked about finances and discussed any debts, credit cards, outstanding bills, etc. You don’t want to enter a marriage with this information untold. Nevertheless, the sooner you open your financial book and let your spouse in, the better and the sooner you can come together to make a plan forward. Financial secrets add stress (if not now, then later) to you and your marriage, and this isn’t something every marriage can survive.
#2 // Learn to handle uncomfortable conversations
No one likes sitting through an uncomfortable conversation, especially when it’s about them. But you’re going to have many more of these conversations, it’s a part of life. So, if you’re uncomfortable with talking about your financial habits, you’re going to have to learn how to have these talks and also listen without getting defensive. Remember, your finances (the good, bad, and ugly) are all now your partner’s as well. Make sure you both are in a position to be a team.
#3 // Communicate openly & often
One of the best things that our founder did in her own marriage was start “Finance Fridays” where her & her husband sit down for 30 minutes and get their financial house in order. Ask yourself if you’re a daily finance person, or can once a week work better for you and your spouse? Whatever frequency you choose, make sure that (1) you’re both available, (2) you discuss what’s happened since the last conversation, and (3) you make a plan together for upcoming bills, expenses, and expectations.
Also, even if they’re perfectly scheduled, you’re not going to get anywhere with the conversation if you’re yelling at each other. This is no time to pick fights, this is the time to solve problems and build a future together (which requires money to do that.) You and your partner need to communicate openly and effectively. If you find yourself becoming angry, either cool down or return to the conversation after a couple of hours. Remember, this isn’t about blaming each other, this is about coming together.
#4 // Make financial goals together
Hey there. You’re no longer single, so your financial goals shouldn’t be single either. 1-person decision making is for 1-person relationships. You now have to make compromises and move together towards your goals.
Now, it’s time for you and your partner to come up with goals of how you’d like to spend and save your money. You have to decide whether you’d like to take a trip this year or save up for a down payment for your own home. What you do with the money should be a shared goal and it’s important to both agree on how you’ll get there.
#5 // Know how your partner handles money
If you don’t know how your partner handles money, whether they’re a spender or saver, then you’re going to constantly argue. You need to understand the way your partner looks at money and what their philosophy is. Did they grow up with a lot of money? How have they handled money issues in the past? How did they grow up watching their parents deal with money? Asking these questions will give you a better idea of how they handle their finances and why they act in specific ways.
#6 // Know how you handle money
We tend to like to blame others when we’re going through sticky situations, but you can’t do this forever. It’s time to become financially responsible and aware of your actions. Sit down and ask yourself, what is my own philosophy with money? Look at how you grew up, the financial issues you’ve had in your past, and where your strengths and weaknesses lie. This will help you look at you and your partner as a whole.
7 // Understand that you’re not going to agree on everything
Of course, you’re not going to agree on everything your partner has to say, but you have to respect their decisions, motivations, and opinions. When you talk about finances, it’s important to see what’s important to them as well as yourself. Don’t judge your partner because they spend their money in a certain way. If they have a spending problem, then sit down with them, talk to them about how you feel, and instead of lecturing them, repeat how important it is for you both to have shared goals and be a team.
8 // Use the resources around you
You have an endless amount of resources around you. You can use budgeting apps, talk to financial advisors and banks about credit card limits, hire a financial planner or counselor that specializes in married couples, etc. You don’t have to do this all on your own, instead, use everything you possibly can to help you get your finances in order.
9 // Create a monthly budget
This is a great way to make sure you’re staying on top of your finances. Create a monthly budget, outlining your expenses and how much money you should spend that month. Of course, discuss & create all of this with your partner. This budget has to be created by the both of you since you’re both going to be following it.
10 // Have an emergency fund
You always want to make sure that you have a little bit of money placed away in case of emergencies. Maybe your laundry machine broke down or your car needs a new engine - how are you going pay for it? An emergency fund will help reduce a huge amount of stress on you and your partner. Try to have a minimum of $1000 in your emergency fund at all times.
A Note from Our Founder: When we got married, a very special wedding guest sent us Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace book. It sat on our shelf for a while, but recently, my husband & I started making it a priority to read at least 5 pages every night together before bed. This simple tip really works!
11 // Go through monthly expenses
You and your partner should know what your monthly expenses are. Of course, every week you’ll sit down with your partner and make sure you’re on track with spending, but you need to know how much money you spend on rent/mortgage, utilities and food. It’s amazing how knowing where you are currently can give you the power to make change.
Finances don’t have to be an major issue in your marriage. Of course, you’ll have moments out of your control in life where you’re going to be financially stressed, but, if you follow these tips, then you shouldn’t have finances as a main issue in your marriage.
Natasha Ivanovic is a writer at Broomstick! Other than her love of writing, she loves reading, getting lost in nature and drinking a good cappuccino (it's not as easy to find as it sounds). She recently finished her post-graduate degree in forensic psychology but decided to stick with writing as her imagination always seems to get the best of her. Join Natasha and apply to be a Broomstick contributing writer here.