When it comes to money, it’s easier to track your own finances than someone else’s. So when you’re at the point in your relationship or marriage that you have joint bank accounts and payments, you need to readjust when it comes to your financial literacy. You’re no longer thinking of just your finances, but also someone elses to, and your finances together. Everyone has different financial goals, and being aligned with your partners is important, but what other money mistakes and miscommunications do couples make?
Do you know who out of the two of you is responsible for what? Do you know how much debt you each have? What are your partner’s spending habits like? These are all questions you need to ask your partner in the beginning of combining expenses and finances. Before you take on someone else’s financial responsibility you need to know these important things about them and their money habits. You’ll especially want to be on the same page if you’re making big decisions where money is involved. For example, having a wedding, moving in together, renovating the house, etc.
Taking debt seriously
Debt is just one of those things that some people have more than others. Depending on your financial situation and spending habits, debt can come in all different forms. It can be student loans, credit cards, a mortgage, etc. No matter what kind of debt it is, making sure to pay it off and not getting deeper into debt is what is the most important thing. Not all debt is bad, lots of times it is necessary, but understanding your partner’s debts, and how they (or the two of you together) are planning to tackle them is important.
A plan to save
When it comes to your savings plan, everyone has different ways they want to save and manage this. When it comes to your personal savings goals, your future depends on it and this is something that needs to be compatible with your partner in making sure you are on the same page with saving. Are your savings goals the same? Have you discussed a retirement plan? Or a long-term savings plan?
Separate bank accounts
Some couples think that the best way to avoid issues when it comes to finances is just to keep everything separate. Each of you have your own bank account for your paychecks and then you just split the cost of bills as they come. However, this lays the groundwork for financial problems. Couples in great marriages talk about their money, and remember that marriage is a partnership.
Maybe you’re perfectly content with shopping at thrift stores, but your partner likes brand-name clothes. If you have an income that doesn’t support these expensive habits, you’re going to have a problem, and quickly develop resentment towards one another. Marriage is about compromising. If you are attached to brand-name, expensive things, consider how you can cut costs, or how you both can change your lifestyle to line up with one another better.
Joining your finances
It’s very common for couples to join their finances once they get married, and after paying for a wedding, married couples enter a new financial challenge of merging their finances and managing budgets together. People are raised differently, and have different financial literacy, so this can often be a point of tension or disagreements in a relationship. So we’re here to help with how to manage those joint finances in a way that sets you up for success.
Going back to communication
We’ve already said it once, but we’ll say it again. Communication is key to having success in managing your finances as a couple.Have limits on what you spend, discuss big purchases, be open with your money conversations, and make them regular!
Look at YOUR numbers
You know what you have financially individually, but now with a duel income, the tools and banking you’re doing individually may not work as a couple. Take a look at your numbers and budgets and determine your expenses and budgets as a couple.
Create a budget
Once you see what your expenses, spending, and income is as a couple, build a budget based around those numbers. Remember the way you budget may be different than your spouse. So communication is key here!
Set financial goals
It’s important to discuss what you would like to see in your financial future and how you plan on meeting those goals. You’ll want to settle on goals that make you both happy and that you are both aligned with.
Be accountable for your spending. When it comes to shared accounts, you need to hold yourself (and your partner) accountable for the purchases you’re/they’re making with your joint money.
There should be no secrets when it comes to shared finances. Both parties will be able to see where money is being spent, and part of having good communication about your finances is having no secrets.
Learn from each other
Everyone has their own tips and tricks when it comes to their money. How you spend, how you save, and how you manage your funds may be different, and you may be doing something that could help the other person or vice versa. Be open with your partner and your tips and learn from one another.
When two people are in a serious relationship, each of them should have a say in how their life will progress. This may open the floor up for disagreement on the details, but in the end, both should be happy with the overall plan. Whether this means that travel is a priority, or saving for a house, and having kids. Compromise may be a big factor in these conversations and goal setting, but each person in your relationship needs to be aware of how they are responsible for these goals. The likelihood of both people in the relationship making the same amount of money is low, so it’s important to not be resentful of this, but instead, determine what conversations need to be had so both partners feel like they are fairly contributing towards the relationship and financial goals.
Back in the day, men used to have the power in the household, but this has changed. Today, women are career-driven and have their own aspirations in life. It is also not uncommon for the woman of the house to be the breadwinner. Balancing the power in your relationship and household is something that needs to be considered when aiming to be financially stable together because regardless of how much each person brings to the table, you are a team.
Money and satisfaction
Economic hardships obviously have a negative effect on relationships. Couples with financial stress tend to have lower levels of satisfaction within their relationship as a whole. When you are emotionally strained by your financial struggle, you’ll become more hostile, irritable and uncommunicative towards your significant other, which we all know isn’t healthy for your relationship. Pointing fingers at one another in a financial downfall can be easy, but unhealthy for a relationship. This is where, again, communication and compromise comes into play to ensure you are both satisfied with your financial situation and future.
Aligning your spending habits
What happens when the spender falls in love with the saver? A spender being the person who pushes their monthly budgets to the limit and purchase what they want, when they want, versus a saver who is saving towards their financial goals and good with not overspending? Don’t worry, your relationship won’t be doomed, it just takes some extra steps to ensure you are on the right page as you merge your expenses together.
Spenders and savers should discuss their different views on money. This means asking things like: “Is buying the best essential to your well-being?” Afterall, aren’t the best things in life really free? Ask your partner the simple lottery question. What would they do if you won $1 million dollars? This can help you have fun with a more serious topic and get an idea of how your partner thinks. Would they blow it on expensive cars? Or would they spend some, but save/invest some?
From here, start getting your spending habits aligned with one another. Compile a list of your joint family and financial goals such as milestones like houses, weddings, and children, but also irregular spending like a vacation. Once you have the list, put real numbers beside each item. How much money do you need to save to reach those goals? When should you start to save? How much do you need to contribute each month?
As a couple, you’ll need to balance your goals and expectations, ensuring both partners feel heard, respected and treated fairly.
You’ll also want to work on making this process fun because these conversations can be touch! Instead of talking about finances around the kitchen table, why not go to your favourite restaurant? Find rewards you both are excited about that you can earn as you make progress in your financial goals and goal setting.
Once you have a plan, use online banking, apps, etc. to put it into action for you. That way you don’t have to constantly nag on each other to make payments, etc. Don’t be afraid to reevaluate your plan as time goes on. You may start to make more money, or have difficulties making contributions. It’s okay to change and switch things up when they’re not working!
Most important, remember you are a team in this. To be successful with aligning your spending (and saving) habits, you need to figure out how to make it work together.
Being successful with managing your money as partners will set you up for a successful future. Holding off on having these important discussions will only cause tension later in your relationship, and who really wants to be fighting about money and bills?