Money problems and marriage don’t have to go hand in hand. Learn how this simple solution can keep money problems out of your marriage for good.
How many of you struggle with money problems in your marriage? I have a secret for you… you are not alone. Very few marriages are free of money problems. It doesn’t matter how much household income you have, whether you are debt free, or buried in student loans and a mortgage, almost every couple has disagreements about money. But at the center of most money problems and marriage isn’t actually money, bills or debts at all…
Money Problems and Marriage
I recently reached out to all my followers for some advice about what their single biggest struggle was when it came to achieving their family’s financial goals. And more than 1/3 of you pointed to your spouse as the issue. Whether you share entirely different financial philosophies or your husband just can’t seem to stick to your household budget, your money problems center around your significant other.
Money is the #1 Cause of Marital Arguments
This isn’t all that surprising. Money is the number one thing married couples fight about and is the second leading cause of divorce (only behind infidelity). But it might surprise you to find out that your money problems aren’t actually because of your spouse or even about money at all. The center of your struggle is actually you and your spouse’s inability to talk about money and get on the same page.
Learn the signs to look for, and how to you can jump start talking about money in your marriage…
5 Signs You Need to Sit Down and Talk About the Money Problems in Your Marriage
In our society, talking about money is often seen as taboo… and you sadly carry that sentiment into your most personal relationship, your marriage. While it may not be appropriate to talk about money outside of your home, when you are married and now sharing your finances and raising a family together, talking about it is essential.
If any of the following ring true about your money problems and marriage, it is time to sit down and have an honest conversation with your spouse about your family finances.
1. You have separate bank accounts
While some financial gurus will preach against separate bank accounts, there is nothing inherently wrong with maintaining separate accounts once you are married, if that’s what works for you and your spouse. However, make sure you are still communicating well and not using separate accounts as a means to hide your financial activities from each other.
2. You have different spending philosophies or experiences
Everyone comes from different financial backgrounds, levels of financial education, and experiences. Some people are inherently more frugal and conservative, while others spend more freely. Others may have grown up having very little: finding financial success you were not raised with can bring with it conflicting feelings of guilt and pride, as well as a lack of financial know-how to adequately manage your new found success. And finally, some may have been raised with no guidance on how to handle your family finances at all!
The key to making sure differences in financial philosophies don’t result in money problems in your marriage is 1) identifying each of your personal spending philosophies and financial experiences and 2) coming to an agreement as to a shared, common philosophy as a family.
Talk about what you consider to be affordable vs. expensive. Good bell weathers for this might be what you would be willing to spend on a meal out, a new car, or a vacation. Establish a budget together, and set single purchase limits as an initial way to find common ground on spending philosophy.
3. You or your spouse have undisclosed accounts, debts
Many pre-marriage counseling programs will walk you through a process of talking about major life issues with your significant other, covering topics like having children and disclosing your personal finances.
If you didn’t do this before getting married, it’s never too late to have this conversation. Be open and honest about what debts (or assets) you are bringing in to your relationship. It’s also a good idea to make decisions about future debts together, whether or not you actually co-sign for them. In community property states, you are jointly responsible for them either way. But the key to fewer money problems and marriage is being open, honest and transparent about your family finances.
4. You or your spouse have hidden purchases from each other
Do you go shopping and smuggle the bags inside before your spouse can find them? Or keep your fingers crossed that the Amazon packages get delivered while your spouse is at work?
If you are on the same page as your partner, you shouldn’t have to hide purchases from each other. If you are concerned a purchase may upset them, or falls outside your budget, have a conversation about it BEFORE you buy it. Again, keeping money problems out of your marriage requires keeping the lines of communication open and being transparent about your financial activities. If you have to hide it, you aren’t doing either.
5. Money is a significant source of stress in your marriage
If none of the above ring true, but money problems are still a source of stress in your marriage, you and your husband need to sit down and talk about it. Are you trying to keep a budget but he doesn’t follow it? Are you frustrated with the pace at which you are moving towards your financial goals? Do you have the same goals for your family?
Whatever the underlying source of disagreement, the key to solving it is opening the lines of communication with your spouse, reaching a point of agreement and moving forward together as a team, working towards the same goals.
How to Start the Conversation with Your Spouse
Notice the recurring theme above? The key to solving money problems and marriage is openly talking about money in your marriage. Make the conversations regular, and strive to be as open, honest and transparent as possible.
If you have never talked about money with your spouse, and aren’t sure where to start, I have a printable list of questions to help you jump start the conversation. Here’s how it works:
- Set a date and time for your conversation. Pick a time and place where you won’t be interrupted and you can have a private conversation
- Print two sets of the First Family Finance Meeting Questionnaire, one for each of you. Complete these separately before your discussion
- Bring your completed Questionnaire to your meeting.
The goal here is to gain a greater understanding where each of you is coming from. There are no right or wrong answers – but where you have a difference of opinion, work to come to a place of mutual understanding.
Remember: this should just be the first of many family finance meetings to come! As they become more routine and as your kids get older, you can include them in the discussion too!
Get the 10 Questions for Your First Family Finance Meeting
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FREE Family Finance Mom library.
Here you will find the printable PDF with the 10 Questions you need to jump start your money discussion with your spouse to get on the same page!
I can’t wait to hear how your first family finance meeting goes! I hope it’s the first of many, and the first step for you and your spouse to working together as a team to form a financial plan you can really LIVE with!
Come drop me a DM on Instagram or share your progress with all the other Family Finance Moms in our closed Facebook group. It’s a great group of women to strategize with and get support from on your family’s financial journey.