If you’re single, then don’t skip over this final and crucial Money Crasher Principle about handling your money with a spouse. That day may come when you will be tying the knot and talking about how you will bring your money together, who will pay the bills, and what you will spend your money on. If you are married, then you already know that money can be a huge blessing or a huge burden when it comes to your marital relationship. The statistic that everyone hears is that half of all marriages end in divorce. Ironically, more marriages end because of money problems rather than infidelity. Why can’t people come to an agreement about their money? I think it’s a combination of greed, selfishness, and laziness. Some people hate the thought that their spouse will be spending THEIR hard earned money. They also think their freedom is being taken away. They think that every time they buy something, they have to look over their back to make sure their spouse isn’t looking. It doesn’t have to be that way if you do one thing: COMMUNICATE WITH EACH OTHER.
Every one of my past articles mentions communication as a strong resolution to marital issues with money. It seems like such a simple solution, but I am guilty of not communicating with my wife all the time about money. I might spend $50 on something that I did not run by her first, or I might pay a bill at a time that she wasn’t expecting us to pay it. I am pretty conservative when it comes to how I think you should handle your money with your spouse. Here are three things that I think you MUST do in order to start and maintain healthy finances in your marriage.
- Have a joint bank account. I’m talking about your main bank account being your joint checking account. All funds go in there first, and then they can be disbursed out. You may have a situation where you both have a separate account along with your joint account. I think it’s fine to have the separate accounts if they are storing a certain amount of cash that you have flexiblity to spend. But, all funds filter out of the joint account first. If you are keeping two separate accounts, then I seriously want you to reconsider the vows that you took with your spouse. You stood up at the altar to show that you are dedicated to becoming one cohesive unit that functions together. A marriage is not some joint venture where everything is kept separate, but we help each other out every now and then. Seriously, reconsider what you are doing if you are keeping two separate accounts.
- Write Down a Monthly Budget together. The keyword here is “together”. One of you probably likes handling the logistics of the finances more than the other, but you BOTH need to be present when sitting down to put together a monthly budget. You both agree on how the money is spent and how much of it is spent in each category.
- Respect each other and your budget. If you respect each other, then you won’t tak advantage of your money. One of you can’t be fudging the numbers on the budget or not sticking to it while the other one is sticking to the budget. It just won’t work, and it will start a fight, believe me. If you need to change something in the budget, sit down with your spouse and explain why you think it needs to be changed. Just don’t go do it, unless it is an insignficant amount of money.
I believe that if you do those three things, you will greatly minimize the arguments you have about money.
My spouse won’t cooperate with me, what do I do?
You need marriage counseling. Very little couples think they need marriage counseling when it comes to disagreements about money. It’s okay to disagree about money, but when you spouse won’t even sit down and talk about money with you or attempt to stick to the budget you both put together, then there is probably something else going on in your marriage that needs to be taken care of. It could be issues of resentment, lack of trust, or just stubbornness. Marital counseling can work, so try it if you think your situation is severe enough to warrant it.
Many of you won’t agree with my stance on how to handle money in a marriage, and that is okay. I don’t expect everyone to agree with the stuff that I write. However, I feel strongly about the things that I write when it comes to marriage and money, so please take a minute to consider the advantages of sharing your finances with your spouse before you write a comment about how separate accounts work for you. If you’re going to share your life, emotions, home, and possessions with your spouse, why not share your money?