It’s not always easy coming up with a (finance) system that works for both spouses. That is why communication is always important. It’s imperative that both spouses have an understanding of what your goals are so there are no surprises. Once discussing everything, you’ll both have a better understanding of what is important to the other and you can figure out a compromise. Is one person a risk taker and the other a saver? Are yearly vacations important? Is one person an impulse shopper? Are credit cards a problem? There are many things to consider when dealing with finances in a marriage. Here are a few tips on how to approach finances:
1. Decide on whether to Joint or separate bank accounts
I do not believe that just because two people are married, they MUST have one joint account. Having a joint account can be great, but it’s not always ideal. My husband and I have had two completely separate accounts and we attempted to have one joint account but it was a complete failure. Our accounting was completely different. My husband likes to round up on expenses and round down when it comes to income. I don’t like this system. I like to account for every single penny. When we had one account, it was so difficult for me to reconcile the account at the end of the month and it was just too confusing and frustrating. I decided that I would stick to having my own checking account and let him do the accounting on his separate account.
However, what we finally agreed on was having two separate, but joint accounts. This means that we are 100% accountable to each other. We both have full access to each other’s accounts, but we respect each other and will not just take money from either account without consulting each other.
2. Delegate who is in charge of what
Whether you have two accounts or just one, it is vital that both know who will take care of the bills. Sometimes one person likes to handle paying all the bills and the other person doesn’t mind. When I was working and had income coming in, we decided that I would pay for some bills while he was responsible for the others. This worked out well for us for a while.
When I stopped working altogether and was no longer bringing in an income, we made the decision to let my husband pay all the bills the way he wanted to because he thought my budgeting was too strict. It was hard for me to let go of the month to month expenses, but I was a bit relieved that I didn’t have to run the numbers anymore. Fast forward and we have decided that I would be in charge of budgeting our finances.
When delegating, it can be tempting to argue why one is better than the other, but I will encourage you to be flexible and step out of your comfort zone. Have faith in your partner and trust that you two ultimately want the same things. When my husband was handling all of the finances, that didn’t mean that I could never check in on how we were doing. I always had access to that information and I could always talk to my husband about it.
3. Have monthly meetings
All jobs have regular meetings. A marriage is no different. When it comes to finances, it is wise to check in with your spouse on a regular basis, at least once a month. This will put both minds at ease and it promotes togetherness. Together you will be able to prepare for any upcoming expenses, strategize on investment opportunities, set a savings goal, plan a trip, put together a rainy day fund etc. Always make the time to check in with each other. Make it a habit to calendar these meetings in.
4. Be consistent but flexible
Once you and your spouse have decided on a system then try your best to stick to it, but allow some flexibility. For example, if you can’t have a lengthy meeting every month, it’s ok. Maybe you guys can talk over the phone during a lunch break for a few minutes or text each other. Maybe you just have a few minutes in the car to discuss some issues and that’s ok. Don’t allow all the demands of life to keep you from communicating with your spouse, instead bend a little. If you are unable to maintain your savings budget this month, then it’s OK. Together you guys can come up with a plan and get back on track as soon as you can.
These are just a few things that my husband and I do with our finances. It didn’t start out this way, but I’m glad it’s the way we do things now. We had to tweak some things as we went along. Don’t worry if your situation does not look exactly like that of other married couples. As with anything else, you must do what works best for your marriage. Together, you will set the tone. Best of luck!