Most of us would never expect our most significant other to be one of our greatest roadblocks on the road to financial freedom. When we choose a spouse or partner, money may be one of the things we consider least of all.
Unlike personality, political leanings, spirituality, and a myriad of other traits, we forget the importance of one another’s thoughts and feelings on the many subjects related to finances.
In a perfect world, couples would start talking about money long before they imagine being in a long-term committed relationship. Unfortunately, most couples have no idea the impact that finances can have on a relationship. In fact, studies have been done that show one of the top hurdles that couples face in marriage is related to finances. Here are four things to keep in mind:
1. Talking about debt
Actually talking about debt and who has how much debt can be scary. However, it is essential to find out how much is owed by each person so that a plan can be made to pay it down in the fastest way possible. It’s tempting to label it as “my debt” and “your debt” but once you are married, it becomes “our debt” since credit is affected by both partners. The first and most important step is to get it out in the open.
2. Where to keep your money
Another important topic to discuss is where you will keep your money as a couple. Will you have one merged account and both have access to the money there? Will you have two separate accounts and split the bills between the two of you? If you have one merged account you will need to discuss when money can be withdrawn and for what purposes. There is no hard and fast rule that will work for all couples but one thing that is helpful is for each person to have a set amount of “spending” money that they can use weekly for whatever they choose.
3. Saver vs. spender
One thing I’ve heard over and over is that usually, within a couple, one person is a saver and the other is a spender. If that is true, it makes sense that the saver will feel resentment as they watch the spender buying various items that they see as frivolous or unnecessary. The truth is that couples have to spend money. The key to making it work is setting a budget and staying within it. The “spender” can spend only so much money on what he/she chooses and no more. Likewise, the “saver” can still save that money if he/she so chooses.
Secrets will catch up with you at the moment you least expect it. You may think that what your spouse doesn’t know won’t hurt them but financial secrets can be the downfall of a marriage. Just as secrets about other things can cause a thread of distrust, money secrets can do the same. If you buy something, be honest about the price with your spouse because nobody likes surprises when it comes to money.
If necessary, make time to actually schedule these conversations about money. You will find that once you have gotten everything in the open and made a plan, you will feel a great sense of relief.