Couples face many financial decisions together:
- joint bank accounts
- melding finances,
- buying a house,
- large purchases/investments
- having children
- paying for weddings
- retirement planning
- wills and estate planning
- and so much more.
Couples are supposed to live happily ever after for the rest of life. Some say money can’t buy happiness but these managing money is a big part of any marriage or relationship. Unfortunately, money is also one of the biggest causes of stress and often financial issues are at the center of problems in marriages. If that’s true, one of the keys to living a happy and successful marriage is to make sure you have some alignment and understanding of financial issues as early in a relationship as possible.
Communication is the key
Communication is key in all aspects of marriage and this is especially true when it comes to money. In most cases, problems arise not because of money itself but rather misunderstanding or miscommunication about beliefs, values and habits surrounding money.
Often couples might find it taboo to talk about money when romance is believed to be the focus of a newer relationship. My advice is not to be blinded by love. Couples need to start an open honest dialogue about personal finance sooner than later.
In most cases, people handle money differently. Some are savers and others are spenders. Some people are drowning in debt while others try to avoid it. Some are savvy investors while others have no experience or desire to manage a portfolio. In fact, it is rare that couples have the exact same attitudes and habits about money and that’s likely why many couples find money issues really stressful in marriage.
Things to talk about
Here are some key questions to initiate discussion about personal finance.
1. What are your money habits? How do you like to spend? Do you pay with credit cards, cash or some other form of payment? Do you keep track of your expenses? Do you know how much you spend every month? Where did you develop these habits?
2. What does money do for you? What is your attitude about money? What do you like to do with your money? What do you spend your money on? Do you enjoy the finer things in life or are you quite frugal?
3. Are you an impulsive spender? Or do you prefer to shop around for good deals? Do you buy things when they are on sale even if you don’t need it now? Do you spend money you don’t have?
4. Do you save money? Are you a saver or a spender? How do you save money? Where do you put it? Why do you save money?
5. What is your attitude towards debt? Do you know how much debt you have? How many different forms of debt do you have? Do you have Credit cards, lines of credit, student loans, etc?
6. Do you donate money to charities? If so, how much? Why is it important for you to support or not support charities?
7. How do you feel about joint bank accounts? Are you planning to treat money as ours? Or do you prefer to keep separate accounts for personal spending?
8. What are your financial goals and priorities? Do you have any financial goals? Have you done any financial planning? Does our relationship change any of those goals?
Remember these questions serve to help you learn about each other rather than try to change each other. There are no right or wrong answers because money is personal. Rather they serve as a starting point to opening up the lines of communication when it comes to money. All couples (not just newlyweds) will benefit from understanding more about their spouses attitudes, beliefs and habits of money.