Getting married is a momentous life event. Your new life is full of hope and possibility. A key part of that hope and possibility is money. When two become one, you bring together two different outlooks on life, not to mention life experiences. As a result, getting on the same page financially with your spouse can be a challenging — yet vital — step toward a harmonious marriage.
If you’re newly married or have never discussed finances with your spouse, here’s how to get on the same page financially.
It all starts with communication
Managing money as a couple comes down to one key thing: communication. This, of course, includes honesty, but it starts with actively discussing money on a regular basis, especially in the beginning.
However, a recent Creditcards.com study shows more than 12 million Americans have actively kept financial accounts or secrets from their partners. A great way to protect to against this in your marriage is to have open and honest communication.
One popular way to do this is by having date nights. Financial planner and founder of Deliberate Finances Ryan Frailich has a great suggestion to do just this: “All couples should have a regularly scheduled time where they look at their finances and jointly make financial decisions.”
There are no rules for how to have a money date, or how often. Do what works best for your relationship and financial situation. Use this time to establish expectations for each other and as a couple. This open honesty will provide a great foundation to handle money matters as they arise.
Assign financial chores
Chores aren’t just for young children. They’re for us as adults too. The outflow of money dates should be financial chores for each person in the relationship. Having chores will encourage working toward a shared, vested interest. You can work with each other’s respective strengths, but make sure not to have one person handle all financial matters.
“While it’s very natural one person will take more of the lead in paying bills, tracking spending, etc., it’s crucial that both partners are regularly involved in making financial decisions, and are in the know about what the couple has, where it’s located and how to access it,” Frailich says.
Like money dates, working on the financial chores should be a regular occurrence, involving both partners to ensure both know the state of the family finances.
Establish joint goals
Money dates and financial chores both work towards the same thing: establishing joint goals. Again, you’re bringing together two people into one relationship. Each person may have different goals, and you want to make sure each is represented when establishing joint goals.
These goals should be both short-term and long-term and revisited on a semi-regular basis. “Couples should also do a financial health check every 3-6 months to check they’re on track with their financial goals and if there are any changes that could be made, from canceling a subscription to switching providers, to put them in a better position,” says Jennifer McDermott, Consumer Advocate for Finder.com.
Having these goals will not only help you know where you stand financially as a couple, it’ll also help encourage transparency when and if issues arise.
Act as a team
Remember, you and your partner are a team. A team wins with transparency, love and encouragement. The foundation for victory is open and honest communication. Honesty can be painful at times, but it also benefits both individuals as well as the relationship, which should be the ultimate goal.
It’s also important to remember there are few rules to managing money as a couple. Yes, you need honesty, communication and transparency, but much of the rest is up to your specific situation, needs and goals.
Take time to encourage one another to be an active part of the financial life of your marriage. Champion each other’s goals and work together to build trust and respect.
Getting on the same page financially with your spouse is an important part of any marriage relationship. With a little work, love and transparency you can find success together.