I recently read this article in the Business Insider “My wife and I never discussed money before getting married — and ended up with $52,000 of debt” and I did have to wonder. WHY didn’t they talk about money before they got married? We talk about so many other things, many of them very private and intimate. Why is it so hard to talk about money with your spouse?
I’m on my second marriage and I know from experience there are many reasons why it’s so difficult. Some value money differently, others see it as source of security while others see it as a source of power. Some people feel like it is “bad manners” to talk about money, even with your spouse. Still others have different expectations in lifestyle. Far too often couples don’t even find out that they have problems talking about money until they are married. What can couples do to talk about money? I know that in our marriage it was a discussion we had before the wedding and one that we openly talk about
Tips for Talking to Your Spouse
Talk about money before the marriage. Establish a budget as well as responsibilities. Nothing starts an argument faster than “Did you pay the car payment?” “No, I thought you did.” After all you have already talked about cooking, cleaning, careers and children, why not talk about money?
It’s just business, it’s not personal. Yes, in this area of marriage it is just business. Don’t bring the personal into it and play the blame game when you are over budget or don’t have enough money to pay the bills. In some cases one partner in this business called marriage may have to remind the other partner that they are in the red and that changes need to be made. Understand that your spouse is looking out for the whole family and it’s nothing personal. And make sure you keep it that way when you talk to your spouse.
Marriage and money. Money and marriage go hand in hand, no matter how you decide to handle your money. Maybe you have separate accounts and pool your resources together to pay bills. Maybe all the money is deposited to one account and the bills are paid from there, but no matter which way you pay it, money and marriage have to be worked out together.
Take a “meeting.” After all, when there is something important to discuss at work, you schedule a meeting. Why not schedule a monthly, family business meeting to establish and review the budget, to find out how things are going towards saving for the future and paying off the bills? Make sure that you put the meeting on the calendar and get rid of all distractions including cell phone and interruptions from the children. No computer allowed, unless you are using the Excel spreadsheet to go over the finances. Discuss how and when the money will be spent and your plans for the future. While one person may have the majority of responsibility for writing those checks, both of you should know how and when the money is spent and saved.
Avoid the impulse buy. Have you ever been shopping and just had to have that new DVD or a pair of shoes? Sure everyone has. But sometimes those impulse buys are more than a simple purchase. Establish a spending limit or budget. Each of you may spend $x without discussing it with the other, but once you hit this range (say for example $100) then you need to at least call or text to make sure it’s in the budget. All big buys have to be agreed upon ahead of time. This way, no one can get angry when you come home with a 60-inch television and surround sound stereo system or the occasional pair of shoes.
Set clear goals and guidelines. Do you have a clear goal regarding money? Do you want to have x in the savings or retirement by a certain date? Maybe you want to save x number of dollars for your child’s education. Or maybe you have a debt you would like to pay off. Be sure to discuss these goals as well as plan on how to reach them.
Listen to your spouse or partner. Stop the blame game. Take down your defenses, and avoid bringing up the past money mishaps.
Take your time. Don’t expect immediate results. It will take time to learn how to talk. It will take time to learn how to follow the budget and it will take time to pay off debts and save money.
Don’t take anything for granted. Not that the money is there and not that one or the other of you takes primary responsibility for paying the bills. You never know what the future may hold. Most importantly, handling the majority of money matters takes time and effort, so why not show your appreciation?
Do you marry someone without talking about jobs, careers, parenting and children? Don’t you express your hopes for the future? Isn’t money just a part of that discussion? Why not sit down and talk to your significant other about money before you take that final step of transferring your affections as well as your funds? If you are already married, schedule some time to talk about money each month, and find ways to invest in your family budget and your relationship.
Do my husband and I disagree about money? Sure, sometimes, after all it’s hard to be perfect. If we agreed on everything life would be boring. But one thing I do know is that many of what could be really big arguments are avoided by using these nine tips.