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Handling Finances When You’re Married

Getting married is a big deal. It means combining two lives together, and that includes money. Financial matters are one of the more common topics that couples argue about, and if two people aren’t on the same page financially, it can be tough to have a happy marriage and a good financial life.

Here are some tips for managing money and budgets when you’re married.

Talk About Money

One of the most important tips to keep in mind is the importance of talking about money. Some couples are hesitant to discuss money matters because they’re worried about what their partner might say, or they feel like they’re being judgmental or difficult. Others feel like the topic isn’t “sexy” or “romantic”, so they avoid it. Neither of these options are a good idea. Talking about money is very important.

If there are touchy subjects (such as overspending or debt), approach these situations with love and understanding, but it’s still important to talk about them. Work together as a team and come up with plans that suit both of you.

Decide How to Handle Bank Accounts

Some couples decide to merge all of their finances into a joint bank account. Others maintain separate accounts and split expenses (either 50/50 or in some other manner, depending on the situation). Some keep separate accounts but open a new joint account for shared expenses. All these options have their own pros and cons, and there is no “right” answer. Talk about the situation, then do what works best and feels the most comfortable for the two of you.

Write Down Your Goals

At what age do you want to retire? Do you hope to buy a new home soon? Are you dreaming of saving for a vacation? These are financial goals that you will need to discuss with your spouse. It’s important that both of you know the goals that you have as a family, because these goals will affect your budget and how much you are spending and saving. You likely each have different financial goals, so you’ll need to work together to set goals that both of you will be happy with.

It helps to write your goals down. Studies have shown that the act of writing down goals makes you more likely to remember them, plus if you have them written somewhere, they’ll always be there to remind you of what you are working towards.

Save for Emergencies

Emergencies happen. There are always unexpected expenses like car repairs, broken appliances, and sudden disasters. You or your spouse could get sick and be unable to work, or you could lose your jobs. If you don’t prepare for emergencies, these situations can result in serious debt trouble.

Building an emergency fund should be a priority, because having one provides financial security, which reduces stress in a relationship. You should aim to have at least six months of expenses saved for emergencies, just in case. Build up to this amount slowly over time and you’ll be in a much better financial position than if you don’t have an emergency fund.

Don’t Hide Spending or Debt

Sometimes one partner in a relationship spends more than they should. In these instances, it can be tempting to hide the problem and hope that your spouse won’t find out. However, there’s a very good chance that they will and, when they do, they won’t just be upset about the spending, they’ll also be angry that they weren’t told about it.

If you hide spending or debt, your partner will act as if it doesn’t exist. That means they’ll spend and save as they would if you didn’t have the debt, because they won’t know about it. This can lead to even more overspending, more debt, and greater financial struggles. It’s much better for your wallet and your relationship if you come clean as soon as possible.

Share the Responsibilities

One partner may be responsible for paying the bills, monitoring the bank account, tracking spending, etc. but the other partner should know how to handle these tasks as well. This means both of you will need to be comfortable your financial processes, have the required passwords and files, know all the account numbers, etc.

If you aren’t both clear on how to manage your household’s money, there could be serious trouble if something happens and the usual person isn’t able to manage the money.