If you think you and your spouse are the only ones who fight about money, let me assure you that you are most definitely not alone. According to a study conducted by Ramsey Solutions, money is the number one thing couples fight about. Money fights are actually the second leading cause of divorce, coming in right behind infidelity. Which, to me, says that learning to manage money in marriage is something we should be taking seriously. Which should be no surprise if we look at the number of times money is mentioned in the bible. It’s an important topic.
Money management is challenging enough on our own, but when we bring someone else into the mix it can get super complicated. Whether you’re married yet or not, these tips can be applied at any point in your relationship to put a stop to/avoid money fights and get your finances under control.
6 Must-Do Tips to Manage Money in Marriage
Have Healthy Money Conversations
Money talk can dredge up all kinds of different emotions. You might be embarrassed if you have debt or out of control spending habits. Maybe you get offended when your spouse disagrees with the way you manage money, or don’t manage money. Then there’s worry and stress, two of the most common emotions associate with finances.
Having an open, honest, and judgement free conversation about money with your husband is the first step to get your finances straightened out. Whether you want to avoid money fights in your future marriage or you already have money fights and you want to resolve them, approach this topic with care. Remember, you two are on the same team. Pointing fingers never helps anything and the more you try to understand each other the more progress you’ll make.
Lay Out All Individual and Shared Debt
This is the hardest part, in my opinion. It’s the part that hurts the worst. Not only can it be embarrassing to share the debt you’ve accumulated on your own, but adding it all together plus shared debt just makes it feel even more endless and impossible to overcome.
It’s not easy to get out of debt but you’ll never do it by ignoring it. Debt can cause some major issues in marriage if you aren’t open and honest up front. Debt is hard enough to deal with without adding secrecy to it. So lay it all out and decide how you’ll tackle it. Will you each be responsible for individual debt or will you just throw it all together and start knocking it out? Then get started setting priorities.
Set Financial Priorities Together
Remember, like I mentioned above, you and your husband are on the same team. If you aren’t on the same page with finances then you’re going to make a mess out of your money. Imagine a football team that goes out on the field for a game with only half of the starting line up knowing their plays. Plain and simple, they are going to lose that game or at least get off to a really rough start. Having common goals and plans to reach them is the only way to win the money game. Having said that, it’s also extremely important to remember that you and your husband probably still have some individual goals that you can support and help each other attain.
Going to back to communication and honest, healthy conversation, talk about what you both want, as a couple and individually. Set priorities and decide not to waver on them. It’s important that your husband’s individual goals are just as important to you as your common goals, and vice versa. Remember, same team. If you aren’t working together then you’re working against each other. Which isn’t going to be beneficial to any aspect of your marriage, not just financially.
Create a Budget You can Both Live With
Go Through Every Step of Creating Your Budget Together
Budgeting isn’t easy and it’s
not always never fun. Each time my husband and I have failed at budgeting, if I’m being honest, it was because I made the budget and then told him what he had to do. I looked over our finances, I understood why some aspects of our budget had to be really restrictive, I was motivated by my plan. He only saw how limited he was going to be and didn’t understand why or what the outcome would be. If you and your husband don’t create your budget together, step by step, one of you is going to be a lot less motivated and a feel a lot more cheated than the other.
After your initial budget is made, one of you might be able to update it monthly on your own, but sitting down together for a monthly meeting will renew each of your motivations and drive to continue. Not to mention, if changes need to be made you can agree on them together with a clear picture of why and how it will help in the future.
Make Your Budget Reasonable for Both of You
My husband might have no problem cutting out buying coffee at the gas station in the mornings before work. He can make coffee at home and take it with him. But I regularly go to coffee shops to write and I buy several cups of coffee each week. So cutting coffee out of our budget entirely isn’t going to work for me. I would lose my mind if I worked from home at all times. So coffee out is a necessity for me whereas for him it’s a convenience item. This is a great example of making a budget that works for both of you.
In this case, we cut coffee out of his part of the budget and in it’s place he has a cigarette budget (yuck, but it’s reality). On the other hand, I can eat at home a lot more than he can. I have more freedom in when and where I work. He works all over the place as a plumber and never knows where he’ll be. He is also a songwriter and musician and spends a lot of evenings out playing at different bars and restaurants. In this case he has more of a budget for eating out than I do.
We have priorities so I shouldn’t give myself an equal budget for eating out just because he eats out a lot. Because I can cut back in that area, I should. Just like he does with coffee. Overall, the point here is that you both agree on every aspect of your budget and you’re reasonable with what each of you should sacrifice.
Everyone can save money. Let me say that one more time. Everyone can save money. Some might only be able to save $5 a week and some might save a lot more. But all of us waste money on something and saving anything at all is better than saving nothing. Not having a savings is a total budget killer. An emergency expense will destroy a budget faster than you can say, “I wasn’t expecting that.” So saving is super important, no matter where you have to start to do it.
When my husband and I got married we had this idea that we didn’t make enough money to save anything and we would just have to start later. Then as the years went on and our income increased we still didn’t start saving. We were stuck in this mindset that there was never enough money. The problem was not that there wasn’t enough money, it was that we had no idea what we were doing with our money. We didn’t budget, we didn’t make our money work for us. We didn’t know where our money was going before it went there, we just spent it and then wondered where the heck it went.
I want to be completely real with you all…we aren’t the world’s best budgeters or savers. We are actually still pretty bad at implementing a budget. Sometimes we give up on our budget entirely because we have so much going on that it’s all really overwhelming. Life throws us all off sometimes. But through trial and error, we have a learned a lot about what really works and that’s what I share with you all. If you have a problem not following through or sometimes quitting, just pick right back up and start again. It’s a process of narrowing down what really works for you so it’s going to take some time to get good at it.
Once you start making your budget and seeing what you have left over, you might see that you should be saving a lot more than you are. If you can, start with saving 10% of your income each month. After you do your budget you might find out that you can save even more than that. On the other hand you might find out that you can’t save that much right now. That’s okay too. Just do as much as you can and as you pay off debt you can increase your savings. Actively update your savings category in your budget. The more debt you pay off the more free money you’ll have and it needs to be assigned somewhere so it doesn’t get spent frivolously. Savings is the perfect place for it.
Make it a Regular Conversation
Checking in with each other regularly about how the budget is going will help you stay on top of things and manage money more easily. Daily check-ins can be a good way to keep accountability. Just a quick, “how did you do with the budget today?” On top of that, plan to have a budget meeting with your husband once a month to review and update your budget for the next month. This way you can decide how things are working, what needs to be tweaked, and what kind of progress you’ve made. Those things are going to motivate you to keep going. You won’t make progress if you aren’t tracking your progress. Plans will just slowly fall apart if your attention isn’t on them periodically.
Try planning a standing coffee date with your husband to plan how you’ll manage money — whatever works for you and your schedule. Get that date on your calendar for months ahead and work everything else around it as best you can. You probably heard the saying that goes something like, failing to plan is planning to fail. So be proactive and money management will be easier, hopefully making your marriage a lot happier.