Couples and Money: Managing Finances Together
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Money touches everything in our lives. It affects our mood, our relationships, our experiences, and even the opportunities that we have in life. Of course, it’s a bit of a chicken and egg problem. Is it that money affects our relationships, mood, etc… or is it that our relationships, mood and so forth affect our money?
It’s certainly a bit of both, but by taking control of how we manage our money, it has a dramatic effect on the rest of our lives.
Working Together On Your Money
I’ve had the pleasure of watching couples reunite and grow as a couple after getting their financial house in order and I’ve had the displeasure of watching them self-destruct as the result of refusing to take control of their money.
One of the primary causes of money trouble in couples is the lack of open communication about money and the lack of team work.
Not sharing finances when married for example. Separate account management creates a great deal of additional stress and miscommunication. Typically, when married couples have separate accounts there is a selfish motivation behind it which is a relationship issue masquerading as a financial one. “He/she can’t tell me what to do with MY money.” You’re married, two became one, it’s not YOUR money anymore.
How Do You View your Finances as a Couple?
I recently heard a story of a newlywed couple where the wife was adamant about keeping their finances separate.
At the time, she was making significantly more money than he was, and she felt that it was her money – not his. She felt entitled to a larger portion of the family budget since her earning power was higher.
However, in the past few months he received a large promotion and is now making significantly more than her. Now she wants to get some of his income as an “allowance” as a result of this new change. Now, she views the situation very differently.
Separate or Joint Finances?
You see, I used to be one of those people who didn’t see what was wrong with separate accounts. However, after years of working intimately with married couples of all ages as a financial coach, I’ve been able to see objectively in other people’s lives that it’s a recipe for disaster at worst and an unnecessary complication at best.
So if you’re going to be married, it’s a good idea to combine your finances if you haven’t already.
If you need to have a “play money” account, then each of you get a separate account for that and deposit some of your “blow money” in those accounts. This way, you still have money that YOU have total control over and it also adds a bit of “sacrifice” to gift giving. In other words, if you get $200 a month for whatever you want to do – whether that be golf trip with the guys or a nice pair of new heals, it means more when you give a birthday present out of that money than if you just took it from the general household account. Why? Because it means YOU gave up something to give them something. Pretty cool, huh?
Love and Money – When to Have the Chat?
If you’re not married, but you’re thinking about it, the time to talk about money is now. My wife and I talked very openly about our incomes, our expenses, our goals and even held each other accountable on our spending before we got married.
It’s my honest opinion that you really shouldn’t marry someone that you can’t talk candidly about money with. Why? Because like sex and religion, it’s really personal and really stinkin’ important to everything else in your life.
Money, just like sex has a funny way of wrecking relationships when it’s not managed and fully understood. So you need to be on the same page with your spouse or fiancé.
If you’re not on the same page, it’s time for a loving heart-to-heart. No one wants to be yanked into fiscal responsibility, just like no one really wants to be told their fat and yanked into the gym. However, if you approach it in the right way… the money talk is one of the most important talks you need to have with someone you have a relationship with.
Nathan W. Morris is a financial freedom expert and author of “Your 33 Day Money Action Plan“, you can find more of Nathan at NathanWMorris.com.
Photo Credits: jeff_golden and linh.ngân
I think transparency of finances is just as important as having open communication in a relationship. I’ve always been super open about my money situation and plan to keep it that way with my boyfriend (soon to be husband maybe?)
Thanks Veronica; I think being open is incredibly helpful as a couple. For many money issues are about trusting one another and sharing goals.
We were always pretty open with finances when we were dating, and were very much on the same page when it came to what’s worth spending money on versus what isn’t… so combining finances was just a natural progression. I made more at the beginning of our marriage, but now Mr. PoP is starting to out-earn me, and I’m 100% for that! It was “our money” then, and it’ll be “our money” if he earns more, too! There’ll just be more of it =)
LOL, nice when you two can get more money! We definitely view the money coming in and out as ‘ours’. Working together on our finances has drawn us closer. Thanks for sharing your take Mrs. PoP