Money Tips for a Happy Marriage

October 6th, 2011

My husband and I are usually on the same page when it comes to money. We believe in being frugal, only buying necessities and saving, lots and lots of savings. I would hear stories of couples arguing over money or one person spending more than the other. I never understood how this was really possible. I mean, didn’t they keep track of the finances together? Didn’t they look online at their bank accounts often? How could they be so irresponsible?

Then something happened.

This last year I let my emotions get the best of me. And for me, when my emotions take over, I get a little on the shopaholic side.

I started buying clothes every week but justified it with the fact that they were from the thrift store or on clearance. But every little bit started to add up. I knew we didn’t have a lot of money but I pushed that thought away.

“We’ll be okay,” I’d say. “We’ll be just fine.” And I’m pretty sure those are the worst things to say in that situation.

By saying that, I was in total denial of the reality of our money situation. The truth is we probably wouldn’t be okay or fine if I kept going the way I was going. With not a lot of income, being students, there is no way to justify the spending that occurred.

My husband was really kind and supportive through it all. He wouldn’t get upset, he didn’t blame me. Instead he talked to me about the problem rationally and logically.

I thought a lot about this experience and what I’ve learned from it. I came up with four things that I would suggest to others who may be either going through the same situation or about to.

  1. Communicate, communicate, communicate. We say this all the time, about many other problems, but it is so important! Communicate needs, communicate wants, communicate fears, communicate goals. Even communicate your frustrations, wishing you had the money to do such and such but knowing that it probably isn’t wise. Talk openly and honestly about your situation. And talk calmly and rationally. Once anger starts to creep into the conversation, resentment can start building up and may not help fix the problem at all. This leads me to the next point.
  2. Be kind to one another. Both of you may come from totally different backgrounds and have different ideas. Instead of throwing judgments, try to understand each other. Research suggests that financial problems are a significant factor in many divorces, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Be calm, be supportive, be kind.
  3. Do it together! Make sure both people are on the same page about money. Make a budget together and stick to it together. Also, make sure both of you know what is going on with the money. Make sure both of you have access to the bank account and know how much is in there at all times. If one person is in charge of the finances, make sure you are filling in your partner honestly and openly. Don’t say “It’s okay” if it’s really not okay. You are in this together. Managing your finances together is one of the most tangible ways that you demonstrate that you are on the same page, you have the same goals, that you are, well, a couple! On the other hand, managing money poorly is a powerful way that you show that you are not really together.
  4. And then, be honest. It was mentioned before but it is important. If you have credit cards or other debt that needs to be paid, tell your partner about it. If you bought something recently, don’t hide it from your spouse! I have heard that story too many times. Tell your partner about it. If you know they will get upset, either talk to them about it or don’t buy it. But the worst thing you could do is lie about it. Gain each other’s trust and keep it. Be honest. One young engaged woman failed to tell her fiancée about her personal debt of nearly $80,000. One day after they were married, her husband was opening up the mail before she returned home. That’s how he discovered the debt, which was now “our” debt rather than “her” debt. Guess how this turned out! (Actually, it was rough, but they were able to work through it eventually.)

I am sure there is a lot more advice about how to have a healthy money relationship. But I know that these four tips have definitely helped me in my own relationship!

What is some advice that you would add?