My wife and I have been married for six years now and I like to think we’ve got our finances figured out. We share expenses, we have a budget, and we know exactly where all our money is going. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about all couples. Money problems in marriage are pretty much expected, but they’re easy to avoid at the same time.
You would think that merging finances with your partner is a good thing since you’ll be in a dual income situation, but it’s also really easy to increase your lifestyle expenses. Some people also worry about losing their financial independence, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
What matters most is that couples come up with a strategy that works for both of them. If you can avoid these 5 financial problems in marriage, you’ll be just fine.
Not sharing expenses
I would argue that one of the biggest money problems in marriage is not sharing expenses. An equal 50/50 split is ideal, however, that’s not exactly realistic is it? Rarely do both partners make the same income and women have expenses that men will never have to worry about.
A better approach would be to look at the overall expenses and income of the family, and then come up with a budget that works for both partners. It’s silly to have one partner pay for all the expenses. This may come with good intentions, but it could create some resentment in the relationship.
Keeping money secrets
I’m not a marriage counsellor, however I’m pretty sure keeping secrets from each other isn’t healthy. If you have debt, let your partner know about it. You may feel embarrassed about it, but that’s not the right approach. Instead, you want to talk to your partner about how you as a couple can clear that debt. Hopefully, you have this talk before you get engaged!
Some people will even lie about their income so they can keep more money for themselves. This is absolutely ridiculous and will only create a massive fight when your partner eventually finds out.
Having only one person manage the money
In many relationships, one partner manages the money. This might make sense because he or she is better at money management, but it unintentionally creates a huge problem. If something were to happen to the partner who manages the money, would the other partner be able to get by? Would the mortgage still be paid? Where is the money being held?
I’m not expecting both partners to know exactly where every dollar is invested, but at the very least, they should know how to access their money in the event of an emergency.
Not budgeting properly
We talked about splitting expenses earlier. Having a budget in place will help you figure out how to manage the family expenses. In a spreadsheet, write down all of your income and expenses. Once you have all this info, you can decide how the expenses will be split. Don’t forget to budget savings e.g. travel, retirement, and short-term major purchases.
Budgets obviously change over time when you get a raise or new expenses come up so review yours on a regular basis. When you do, try to see where you can cut expenses since the goal is to save more right?
Assuming everything will be all right
Financial problems in marriage don’t fix themselves. The above issues are bad enough, but if you think things will end up all right, you’re wrong. Instead of hoping for the best, try to address the problems as soon as you can. This means discussing your concerns with your partner and coming up with a plan. Keep in mind that you don’t need to do everything on your own. If debt is what you’re worried about, there are plenty of options out there to get you on track.
Marriage and money are never easy but it can be quite rewarding once you have it down. A dual-income gives you more buying power but that doesn’t mean you should go all-out. Talk to your partner and discuss how your money can work for you.