One of the top reasons many marriages fail? Money. In that moment of happiness… the cake, the rings, the white dress and the tuxedos. Being open with each other about your finances is the furthest thing from your mind. You’re in that blissful stage of a relationship, the one where nothing else matters except this amazing love between you and your new spouse.
While congratulations are in order (congrats!), I hate to tell you this, but real life hasn’t even started yet.
Money and marriage go hand in hand. And with that, things can get complicated, fast. It is easy to hide your spending or to be defensive and let finance (or lack thereof) create tension between you and your partner. If you are not on the same page about money before marriage (or even many years in) it can turn toxic.
And ain’t nobody got time for that!
Money and Marriage: Finance Tips for Newlyweds (or ANY Marriage)
Establish and maintain trust, boundaries, and most of all, honesty. Honesty about money and bills is so important early on in the relationship.
Relationships go through many seasons. From the courting days (get a room already! 🙂 ), to the newlywed phase (you can’t get OUT of the room 😛 ), to the long term, stuck in the rut phase (get out of the room 😐 ) to the empty nest phase and travel the world retirement phase (get a room again! ♥ )
It is crucial to revisit your finances regularly with your spouse and to continually work toward goals that you both want. Every year, sit down prepare a plan; a plan for the upcoming year that lists your goals, your wants, and your needs in the financial window of your marriage.
At first, these conversations about money can be tough, rigorous, embarrassing and uncomfortable. But I promise, it is all so worth it.
Think of it as the most important groundwork to establish a healthy marriage/money relationship. The more you talk about money, and the possible failure of managing it, the easier it becomes, and the better your financial outlook becomes as well.
You are a TEAM! If you realize that you could fail (and fail together) this helps you to work together to avoid said failure.
The last thing you want to do is come to the point of burning pictures and throwing his/her clothes in the driveway! (hey it happens!)
Checks and balances – the good, the bad, and the ugly!
Here comes the hard part. Really hard.
Laying it all out. Putting every bit of your life out on the table to be scrutinized. It can be frightening. Even if you’re the type of person who has all their ducks in a row, you pay bills on time, have a 800+ credit score, and are debt free, something about exposing yourself completely is unsettling.
Remember that money (in one form or another) helped to mold your spouse into who they are today. Even if your new spouse isn’t in the best financial chapter of their life, it is important to not cast judgement or hate…remember, you chose each other not the money.
Both sides of the table need to know where each other stands, from start to finish, from paycheck to the last penny spent. It is a must. If you haven’t had this *come to Jesus* talk with your partner, you need to – right now.
First things first, how much money is coming in? Are there savings accounts, IRA’s, retirement accounts?
After you get the “money in” part down, time to look at the “money out”. The much harder part. Keeping up with the honesty, you need to lay out ALL of your debt. Every last penny.
Please don’t pass out or start drinking. lol! Instead, look at this as a starting point. You now know exactly where you’re at….and where you want to be.
Where do we go from here?
Start from square one. Make a list of your debt. (I’ve got some great worksheets here) I am a big fan of the “debt snowball” plan. Tackle the smallest debt first, and work your way up…adding freed-up funds from paid-off debt to the larger debt payments… until its all gone.
It is also a good time to keep tabs on each other’s spending. I am not talking about babysitting each and every dollar he/she spends, but spend time regularly going over your money activity and TOGETHER, analyze spending. If one of you resists the change and continually spends in frivolous or secretive ways, you need to catch it early on, before it derails your whole plan.
Find out what the hang up is in regards to the change, and find ways to creatively satisfy that need or habit without tearing each other down. If you or your spouse needs a coffee every morning during the commute…fine…but let’s make it at home and save $5 a cup!
Focus on long term and short term goals, and even if you’re both spenders instead of savers, you adapt and move forward. You’re in this together.
In terms of goals, maybe you want to set up a savings account for a vacation or for Christmas…even if you’re both spenders, you just created a plan to SAVE! Look at that!
Stay honest. While I’m no marriage counselor, I do know that you can’t have a healthy relationship of ANY kind without honesty and transparency.
Revisit these same questions regularly, it will strengthen your marriage, your finances, and your life together in general. Setting goals, reaching milestones, and reaping rewards is all part of the JOYS of marriage.
And again, congratulations!
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