The art of living easily as to money is to pitch your scale of living one degree below your means.Sir Henry Taylor
Much like personal compatibility, couples should figure out how to create financial compatibility with their partner. Managing your finances is difficult. Now imagine adding another person to the mix. One spouse may be more interested in saving money while the other is interested in spending. Poor money management skills can affect your relationship.
If the two people in a relationship have different spending habits, different savings goals, different thoughts about investing, or different fears about being poor, then financial problems will eventually surface in their union.
Managing money as a couple can be a tricky affair especially when one is used to their own individual ways of planning their finances. However, doing the following would pave way for healthy financial habits in the union.
Start Talking About Finances
Making decisions about money is part of building a life together. Building should be a constructive process, so you need to work together, not in opposition. It is imperative, therefore, to discuss finances together and to set your goals according to your financial situation and spend your money in ways that will bring you closer to achieving those goals. It is best to do this before you get married, but if you have not, discuss finances with your spouse as soon as possible.
You will need to go over what accounts you have and how much debt you carry. Determine your net worth to figure out your complete financial position. In addition, you will also want to be clear about how you expect money to be handled. Make sure each person has a good understanding of where you stand financially as a couple and the expectations that the other holds.
[Read More: How to Determine Your Net Worth]
Write down Goals
After you have determined your financial position, discuss your financial goals in depth; both long term and short term. For example, debt management, children’s education, homeownership, and retirement. Make sure to write all of your goals down and review them periodically. You will have a much better chance of success if you do.
The most essential of the goals should be to live within your means and to adopt a strict budget. Start by reviewing your joint expenses over the last few months to determine how much you have been spending and if you need to bring that amount down. Do not forget to allocate for emergencies and other irregular expenses. Your budget may be a work in progress, and you will have to make adjustments as you progress in life and as expenses and incomes change. Track your budget with an expense diary on a daily basis and review it monthly to see whether you are in line with your budget.
Work as a Team
Money management in a marriage is not about having one person carrying the ball for the couple. It involves both parties working together and sharing responsibilities equally. To work properly as a team, you must establish the same goals.
Always encourage each other and support each other. Be aware of your own weaknesses and strengths, and play off the strengths of your spouse to bring synergy to what you are trying to accomplish. Remember that you are incorporating two different personalities in the team and you need to recognize your money personality in your relationship and have put some thought into how you approach money.
The shared responsibilities will avoid situations where debt may accumulate, and what once was a solid financial position can deteriorate rapidly. In the interest of preserving you and your spouse’s welfare, make sure each of you is aware of your entire financial picture, and that you are equally responsible for managing a portion of it.
Find the Right Level of Risk as a Couple:
When considering your investments and your overall lifestyle, it is a lot easier if you are both on the same page. If you are someone who likes to take on risk, you may find your spending and investing habits different from your risk-averse spouse. The risk-averse spouse can have a buffer investment that has guaranteed returns and therefore lower the level of risk in both your investments.
Honesty and trust are always the best policy, especially when it comes to money management in marriage. Withholding responsibilities from your spouse or watching every move he or she makes is condescending and demeaning. If you form good money management habits as a couple, you will be able to work as a team through whatever life throws at you. If you are working together as a team, you just might have enough time and energy to put some effort into getting this scarce resource and be able to embed into your financial freedom.
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