How we handle money can make or break our relationships with our spouses. Although we all know that managing money is important, a 2011 Couples & Money Survey showed that nearly all Americans in committed relationships (91%) agree that it is important to discuss their partner’s financial history before marriage, yet more than one quarter (26%) admit they tend to avoid talking about finances.
Below are our top three savings tips to help facilitate those money conversations and help you handle money more successfully than ever.
Tip #1: Have a Finance Date
Going on a date to the movies or to a candlelit dinner sounds way more fun than having a finance date. I get it; I know. (A calculator doesn’t exactly whip someone into a romantic frenzy.)
However, I recommend couples have a “finance date” because by calling it that, you take something you might dread and transform it into something enjoyable. It’s hard to argue on a date or get frustrated. It’s a date after all, right?
So, all you need to do is schedule a time each month to sit down and talk about money. This is the number one best way to learn how to handle finances in a marriage because it forces open communication, helps you to verbalize your savings goals, and encourages you to work together with your spouse.
According to an online poll commissioned by ForbesWoman and the National Endowment for Financial Education, “one in three Americans (31%) who have combined their finances admitted lying to their spouses about money.”
If you don’t want to become a part of that statistic, you need to try to talk and communicate about managing money regularly. It won’t always be easy but I believe that the more you communicate with your spouse about your savings goals, the more likely you are to reach them.
When couples hide money secrets from each other, it damages not only their spouse but their future together. If you want to become financially successful in the future and retire with millions, you have to work together with your other half.
We all have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to money. Even the most disciplined saver might not be able to resist a chocolate bar every time they’re in the grocery checkout line (not that I know anyone like that, of course.)
Acknowledge these differences during your finance dates and laugh about them. It’s far better to come to a middle ground or a compromise than it is to try to force someone to follow your exact money philosophy. Remember that you married your spouse because you love the way they think and you enjoy their personality. The way we handle money is an intimate and integral part of who we are. We are all capable of positive change, but it often starts with respectful conversation.
So remember, have a date. Make it fun. Keep things light. Accept one another and work together towards your goals. The more money dates you have, the more open you will become with one another when it comes to your finances.
Tip #2: Give Each Other An Allowance
I was a financial writer for years before I discovered this trick, and it has worked wonders in my own marriage. My husband has amazing taste, and because of that, his wants in life are often more expensive than my own. Whether it’s his high-end shaving cream or the nice shoes he wears to work, my husband takes great pride in his appearance.
Although I try to look nice, I’m perfectly fine with a pair of yoga pants with T.J.Maxx as my daily outfit of choice.
Over the years, my husband’s small and seemingly innocuous purchases always seemed to take away from my savings goals. I’d plan on saving a certain amount each month, but then I wouldn’t take into account some of his purchases. It wasn’t fair of me to try to control everything he spent.
After all, that’s not healthy in a marriage. However, I also wanted to save and invest so we could become experts at managing money and becoming financially independent millionaires someday.
So, we started giving each other an allowance.
Every month, we each get a certain dollar amount that is put on a prepaid debit card for each of us. The past few months, we’ve each received $100 to spend as we please every month, but the amount varies depending on how aggressively we’re paying off student loan debt or trying to save for other goals.
The benefit of having our allowance on a pre-paid debit card is that I don’t have to see his purchases and he doesn’t have to see mine. If he wants to get a $60 haircut, he can do that without any judgement from me. Similarly, I can buy whatever I please too, without any sideways glances from him. We each have a choice, and that’s an empowering feeling.
Additionally, because our personal money is set each month, there is no way either of us can dip into our checking account again. Once the allowance is gone, it’s gone, which helps to cut down on unnecessary spending, individual shopping guilt, and money arguments.
Tip #3: Automate It to Make it Easy
My last savings tip for married couples is to automate everything. Much like taking out the trash or cutting the grass, there is a long list of financial chores that have to be tended to each month like paying bills or tracking spending.
I’ve found the very best way to save for both short-term and long-term goals is to automate everything to make it easy. The allowance I mentioned above is automatically deducted and moved to our pre-paid debit cards each month. Putting money in a retirement savings plan is also something that’s extremely easy to automate.
If you’re not currently saving 15% of your income into your retirement funds, start trying to increase your savings amounts incrementally over time. If you have a specific savings goal like refinishing your basement or saving for a new car, have $25 or $50 or whatever you can afford automatically moved to a separate savings account for that specific goal as soon as you get paid.
Ultimately, the more you automate your bills and your life, the less financial stress you will have. Couple that with an allowance to make you feel like you have some independence and some productive finance dates, and there’s no doubt you’ll be saving your way to becoming a millionaire couple once and for all.
At Married People, we want to help make marriage real, fun, and simple. Because when your marriage is better, everything is better. We do that with weekly blog posts, podcast episodes, ebooks, and other awesome resources for couples everywhere.
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