Marriage and money can be a tricky subject. I am going to cover three aspects that may make it easier on anyone who is having disagreements with their partner. Those aspects are as follows:
- Financial Goals
- Checking Accounts
These are not the only three aspects, but they are a good starting point.
I am believer that a couple sharing their financial goals can help more than anything. The sooner you do this the better, as it is the foundation. Knowing your significant others financial goals give both of you a starting point from which to work.
My wife for example likes to travel. Therefore, I know that one or two times a year we will be planning a vacation. This causes me to adjust my yearly budget (yes I am one of those crazy people who allocates their money for a whole year) On the other hand, my wife knows I like to save money so, she knows when I say “that is a lot of money” it is just me doing my thing. I’m not saying I don’t want to go on the vacation or that it cost too much, but she knows it is something I am going to say.
Knowing where the other person is coming from ahead of time will help both of you. This will make communication easier.
You and your partner should talk about money. I do not mean you need to have a family meeting or anything that drastic. My wife and I bring up money when needed and our conversations generally last under five minutes and are painless. They are painless because talking about it is part of our normal routine.
Marriage and money should be treated like everything else in marriage. When my wife and I talk about money, it sometimes sounds like we are trying to decide where to go out to dinner. You know the type of conversation I am talking about, one of those marriage conversations that you just do automatically.
So, how else do we avoid disputes about money? The easiest way that my wife and I have found is to have three checking accounts: A joint checking account for all household expenses and two personal checking accounts.
This quickly eliminates one major money argument which is “you spent too much money on x and we can’t pay the power bill this month.” All household expenses are immediately covered by the joint checking account which should be funded on the first of the month.
If you were to look at our budget, you would see that our car payments come out of our personal accounts. If we ever buy a “family” vehicle, we would pay for that out of the joint account. You can pay automobile payments out of whichever account the two of you decide, but separating the cars gives a bit of freedom when buying cars.
Are there any rules attached to the personal checking accounts? The two of you need to sit down and have a quick discussion about these rules. To help you out, my wife and I decided that we could spend our extra money however we wanted as long as the purchase was less than $500. If it is over $500, we simply tell the other “Hey, I am planning on buying this” and at that point the other person has an opportunity to object. To this day we have never vetoed any of the other person’s purchases. As I said before, it is all about communication.
Finally, what I like best about having three checking accounts is you can genuinely buy each other gifts or take each other out to dinner and pay the bill like you were on a date back before your were married.
You do not have to use the three checking accounts method, maybe one joint account works for you. If it does great, but I would urge you to always talk about money.