When it comes to a marriage, something that many couples often have problems agreeing on is their finances. Let’s face it, no one wants to live in debt or live uncomfortably because of the number in their bank account.
We all want to be able to have the money to buy the things that we want, not just the things that we need to live. However, conflicts often arise when two people with differing financial goals must live under the same roof. One person wants one thing and the other wants something totally different.
Often this causes plenty of problems. But in the end, an agreement has to be reached or this simple problem could lead to a world of others.
Tips on Working as a Couple With Money
If you’re both financially stubborn, or maybe you’re just confused as to what your spouse wants, follow these steps in hopes of coming to some sort of agreement. Even you can’t agree on everything, you at least have shed some light on what each of you want financially:
1. Build financial objectives. Sit down one evening after dinner with some paper and pencil in hand and write your financial objectives. Think about what you want to do financially. Are you looking to start a retirement fund? Want to set money aside for future children? Looking to save up for a vacation each year? It’s important that your spouse is aware of your financial wants and goals. Every step you take after this one should simply be a response to these agreed upon goals.
2. Consider debts. Though not the most fun part of the process, both of you will need to consider the debts you have. From college loans to car loans, credit cards and any other debt you have, it’s important that your spouse knows and is aware. This way, money can be spent and saved each month, depending on the amount of money you both put towards paying off your debt.
3. Consider getting rid of some things together. This is definitely the hardest part: deciding what you should spend less money on each month. Maybe you have a tendency to go on mini-shopping sprees every other weekend. Or maybe you find yourself buying lunch out each day. It’s important that each of you opts to cut down on spending somewhere. Compromise is important and will help lead to a positive agreement.
4. Encourage your spouse’s natural financial strengths. It may be hard to believe, but your spouse is gifted financially in some way. If you can’t think of it, you simply haven’t discovered it yet. There are many aspects to managing your money: spending strategies, investing, debt reduction, savings, budgeting, and more. Odds are your spouse will excel in a couple of those areas. As a couple, determine what those areas are, assign roles and responsibilities, and encourage your spouse in his or her respective duties.
5. Consider separate spending accounts. I’m not a huge fan of this approach, but for some couples it’s the best solution. Pay all of your group expenses and meet your major financial goals with a joint checking account. Then, transfer spending money to individual checking accounts. This money can be spent however each spouse desires. This way you know you are meeting your objectives and no one is scrutinizing anyone’s spending.
6. Take a financial class together. Part of growing together as a couple is the act of sharing in new learning experiences. There are many financial classes you can both take to help you move in the same direction financially. Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University comes to mind. But that is just one of many. Do some research at your local library, find a book, or a take a class online.
7. Meet with an objective financial advisor. If all else fails, go to a professionally-trained, objective, third-party to help you find direction. A fee-only Certified Financial Planner would be a good place to start. They will charge you a one time fee to look at your finances and give you a game plan. Since they don’t have a skin in the game, you can both rest assured following their advice.
Coming to a solid agreement when it comes to finances can be hard, especially if your spouse already has his/her financial wants, needs, and objectives already set in stone. It’s important that you can find a way to bend and stretch a little so that both of your wants and needs monetarily are discussed and taken care of.
Thoughts on Communication as a Couple
What tips do you have for finding financial agreement with your spouse?
Photo Credit: Steve Wampler