One of the most significant steps in any relationship is the combination of finances. When you marry your partner, this becomes a key part of your foundation as a couple. When you combine your finances, in one way or another, you’re building a life together and working towards common financial goals.
Discussions around money and spending can be challenging to navigate in some cases, especially if you’re unsure how to begin those conversations. If you’ve already tied the knot, ideally, you should have a basic foundation in place where you can talk about money openly and honestly.
Discuss Your Goals
To successfully navigate finances with your spouse, it’s imperative that your financial goals are aligned. Like any major decision in your marriage, if you’re not on the same page, it can spell trouble.
It’s important to know if you collectively need debt solutions, like finding personal loans online or if finding another source of income is in your best interest. Debt can cause a strain on other aspects of your relationship, and your goals for debt relief should be aligned.
When it comes to saving, do you have the same short-term and long-term goals? Short-term goals will often include things like saving for a minor home repair or a yearly vacation. While long-term goals are often centred around retirement or another major milestone, such as saving for a child’s post-secondary education.
It’s important to ensure you’re continuously on the same page when it comes to your financial goals.
Make a Plan to Talk About Money
It can be easy to forgo these kinds of conversations, especially when life gets in the way and you find yourself preoccupied with your responsibilities. However, it’s essential that talks about money are never left on the back burner if you want to continue to build a strong foundation with your spouse.
Set aside a specific time each month to go over every detail of your budget. Layout your current expenses against your income and take the time to have open and honest conversations about your spending. Look at your current savings and notice if there are any extra funds that can be allocated to help you achieve those short-term and long-term goals.
Simultaneously, ensure you’re both responsible for your finances. In some cases, one spouse will often be in charge of money while the other takes on another responsibility. This can leave the other spouse in the dark, which can negatively impact them should something occur, and you need to know where your finances stand.
Never Hide Purchases
Remaining open and honest about your spending is the key to a stable financial foundation. If you start hiding purchases from your spouse, it can lead to trouble down the road. Instead, put all of your receipts in an envelope and go over them at your monthly meeting.
Have Your Own Discretionary Spending
To avoid resentment surrounding spending, consider having your own separate discretionary spending accounts. Many married couples will open a joint account for their fixed expenses to ensure bills are always paid on time and savings and investments are taken care of, but they’ll also have their own account where they can allocate money for their own personal use.
A discretionary spending account is designed for your entertainment purposes only. You can both agree on a set amount based on how much your fixed expenses take up, and you’re free to use that money however you please without judgement.
Only Use Inclusive Language
The way you communicate your frustrations or desires around money can steer the conversation in different directions — so to ensure every discussion is productive, always check the language you’re using. Try to centre any concerns around something positive, and reassure your spouse that you both want the same things — to enjoy a long and prosperous marriage and that being on the same page financially is a significant part of that journey.
Turn Fights Into Opportunities for Discussion
Fights are not uncommon in any marriage. In fact, fighting can be healthy in many cases when the fights lead to constructive change and understanding. The key, if you’re fighting about money, is to always approach it with love and compassion rather than anger and resentment.
Every couple is unique, and there may not be a one-size-fits-all solution, but consider setting ground rules that revolve around each person being allotted a set amount of time to voice their concerns. Their spouse is not allowed to interrupt until their time is up, and they are then given the floor to communicate their frustrations.
The idea is to not let fights over money put a significant dent in your relationship but rather to help you build a stronger foundation and keep your lines of communication open. By doing this, you can hold each other accountable, and you’ll always know that there are no hidden feelings harboured against the other.