Avoiding fights about money is essential for any marriage—and the best way to do that is to communicate, says blogger Bridget Casey.
Being married is hard. You share space, friends, and—perhaps most difficult — finances. When it comes to mixing love and money, the result isn’t always rosy. With finances cited as the leading cause of stress in a relationship, being able to reconcile your money differences is key to ensure your marriage has a strong start.
Here are three common money fights couples have, and how to address them like Grownups.
The Budget Fight
Deciding how to divvy up your new joint income can be challenging, but creating a budget that works right from the get-go will save you a lot of headaches throughout your marriage. Of course, this is easier said than done. While you probably won’t argue over whether to pay your rent, disagreements will likely pop up over how much to spend on groceries, dining out, clothing, and hobbies.
Recommendation: Before the bills come in, determine what constitutes joint expenses and what’s personal. When it comes to allocating your incomes, you might choose to divide everything equally or more proportional to your salaries. There’s no wrong way to budget, it’s just a matter of finding the right way for you as a couple. The most important thing is to ensure all your financial obligations are being met, while still giving each partner some money to spend however they see fit.
The Debt Fight
It’s rare for a couple to come together with equal debt loads—and the same strategies to pay it all off. Sometimes one partner has student loans, while the other graduated debt-free. Maybe one partner racked up credit card debt; the other was frugal from day one. Or maybe both of you are mired in debt, and simply can’t sort out what to pay first. Regardless, chances are that an argument over whose debt takes priority is bound to crop up.
Recommendation: When it comes to marriage, “what’s mine is ours” is a good philosophy for most things, including your debts. When you marry someone, you’re marrying their bank account too, so approach your finances as a united front. Don’t think of debts as individual burdens, but as one task you’ll tackle together. You’ll make the most progress this way! Decide together on a practical approach to paying off the combined debt and stick to the plan until you’re free from the debt burden for good.
The Savings Fight
What to save for is a common squabble among spouses, especially when the knot is recently tied. One spouse might dream of early retirement, while another wants a vacation home. Even if they’re very different, your savings dreams aren’t necessarily incompatible, but you will have to choose which ones you’ll work toward together.
Recommendation: Choose one major savings goal that serves both of you, and make this your number-one priority. It might be saving for a down payment for your first home, or early retirement. Whatever it is, you both have to agree on it. Next, choose two smaller individual savings goals for each of you. This might be a vacation or a new vehicle. Allocate an equal amount of money to both goals, so each person is making progress toward their dreams.
Managing money isn’t always easy, and it can seem doubly hard when two people are involved. However, if you take the time to work together, you can avoid many money battles that can stress your relationship. There’s no secret to marital bliss, but being on the same page together financially is an excellent start!
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While Society of Grownups hopes the information is useful, it’s only intended to provide general education. It’s not legal, tax, or investment advice, and may not apply or be useful to your specific financial situation. If you need recommendations geared to your personal financial situation, schedule time with one of the Society of Grownups financial planners.