Money and Marriage
Tip: Work as a team in managing your finances and maintain equal voices in your partnership no matter how much money either of you earns.
It is critical for married partners to work together in maintaining the different financial dimensions of their household. This includes both partners being involved in everyday financial decisions and transactions, as well as working toward your financial future together.
It is very common for couples to have trouble discussing certain money matters. Developing a healthy communication pattern around money is an ongoing process, but it is so important for the equality and security of your marriage that you are both involved in the process. Here are some basic tips for maintaining and improving the role money plays in your marriage.
Delegate Action, Share Responsibility: It’s not unusual for one spouse to play the primary role in managing the finances, but it is critical that both are involved and aware. Be certain you can clearly articulate your partnership’s assets and debts and locate the necessary back-up documentation. Managing the various dimensions of your partnership is a mutual responsibility.
Save Money, Express Opinions: Financially, it’s wise to tuck money away, but your opinions shouldn’t be stockpiled. If you have concerns about your partner’s spending habits, financial decisions, or your delegated role in managing money, make sure you express those thoughts. While one partner in your relationship may be more financially savvy, there is a lot to be said for instinct and there are TWO CEOs managing the process.
Separate “This” From “That”: Too often arguments over money are about something entirely different. Finances and the things you “own” are often the most tangible component of a relationship. It’s easy to project more abstract emotional issues onto these concrete money matters. The Institute recommends that each partner think carefully before discussing financial concerns to ensure there isn’t a larger problem at the core. Also, when it comes time to discuss spending and saving habits, investments, etc., avoid doing so at a time or place that may have preexisting stress or tension.
Set Goals: If you haven’t already done so, it is important to discuss your respective and mutual financial goals whether it be buying a house, getting a new car, investing heavily for retirement or preparing for children. It is important to discuss these goals so that you can both be on the same page and develop a financial plan that represents the interests of both you and your partner. Remember, compromise is an important part of any marriage’s financial plan. Work together to set goals that compliment your individual plans as well as the future of your household.
Get Help: There are many types of financial advisors and resources to help you and your partner more effectively manage your money. From online banking to free financial consultations at your bank, investigate options together and look at the different options and experts available to assist you. Here are some links that provide additional resources and information on financial issues.
- Take Money Magazine’s free “Money 101” course online to learn about everything from setting financial priorities to estate planning.
- Follow financial news in the media, including CNBC http://moneycentral.msn.com/investor/home.asp (special investment center section for women).
- Learn how to check and maintain your credit rating at Federal Trade Commission’s consumer information site.
- Take a look under the financial section of our bookshelf.
The Institute’s new guidebook, The Commitment Conversation, has tips for effectively communicating about sensitive issues and provides information that will help you build or improve your partnership’s financial machine.