My husband and I facilitate a class for newly married couples. In light of today’s environment, I am finding that many of the “newlyweds” range from young couples in their 20’s to executive in their 40’s to grandparents in their 60’s. Surprisingly, the biggest conflict is the same with all the couples: different money philosophies.
What I have found is that it was the least talked about issue before marriage and the most talked about issue after marriage. With a few steps and both sides being open-minded to compromising, there can be peace in a home with two different philosophies. In fact, if you learn to work with each other’s strengths, it can help both of you get to your financial goals easier. Here are some tips to help you do that:
As a couple, you have to set time aside to discuss the finances. This would be time to review the budget and tell each other about any upcoming expenses like car maintenance, a conference you may have to pay for upfront before being reimbursed, or basically anything that would require money to leave the bank account. So many arguments could have been prevented had a couple simply sat down and thought through upcoming expenses and had the discussion in advance.
Understand (and appreciate) your differences
I find that there are two basic money personalities. There is the person who sees planning as a way to manage money and those who see planning as boring and restraining. Ironically enough, they tend to marry each other.The natural planner gets offended when they do all of the planning, get no input and then have their non-planning spouse spend outside of the budget. The non-planning spouse sees planning as restraining and often feels that the planner spouse uses the plan as a whip and they are constantly reminded of how badly they plan.
Both personalities have so much to offer. The planner can see what is coming in the future and plan in advance. The non-planner typically lives the moment and reminds the rest of us that there is more to life than a zero based budget.
Make sure you’re both engaged
The key is to engage both spouses in the process. The planner needs to know that not everyone finds planning as intriguing as you do, so the timing of when you have the discussion is important. Personally, as the natural planner in the family, I learned if I want my husband mentally present, then I to make sure that no discussions are done during any evening with televised sporting events.
I also had to learn to keep it short. After about 20 minutes, I would look at my husband and realize that “the lights were on, but no one was home” look would be on his face. Frankly, I also had to learn to shut up and let him tell me what was important to him and not dismiss it as stupid. As a result, I learned that my husband likes to have fun but felt restrained by the budget so we actually incorporated “fun money.”
Separate but equal
Some couples have a hard time constantly accounting for their spending to their spouse. If you fall into this category, considering have three accounts.
Account #1: Joint checking account where all of the money initially goes and the household bills are paid out of this account. Any money removed from this account would need to be discussed.
Accounts #2 and #3: You and your spouse would come together and decide on how much money each of you get to spend. Then the money goes into a separate checking account for each spouse. Whatever the money is spent on is personal and does not have to be shared with the other spouse. The only time it needs to be discussed is if one spouse wants more than the agreed spending amount. This prevents the planner spouse from going nuts every time a dollar is spent and it keeps the non-planner spouse from feeling like they have no freedom.
Have a shared vision of what you want your future to look like and how what you do with the finances fits into the picture. For instance, if you want to start your own business, have you shared this with your spouse? Have both of your sit down to discuss how this impacts the family finances.
How about you? Have you learned any tips for dealing with money in your marriage? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.