Money and marriage has been a popular topic on personal finance sites. Being open as a family on personal finances is a big issue to tackle. It’s possible to have financial discussions with your family without starting a fight; it takes planning and time on both sides.
Define Your Goals
What do you two hope to accomplish? People may fight over money, but many times they are fighting over bigger issues. Defining your goals can alleviate some of the pressure. It is difficult to communicate openly as a couple on finances if you’re not open what your goals.
Our financial goals, for example, include being debt free except with house within 5 years. Right now we have student loans I accumulated. We have no car loans and we don’t have credit card debt. To accomplish the goal, we came up with a plan and we’re working through it.
We also are looking at having two location independent careers. This mobile income can from freelance work (like what I’m doing now) or working remotely. It’s a process we’re working through and by being on the same page, we’re hoping to achieve it together.
Do you have a system to handle your finances? It’s difficult to make progress as a couple if you don’t have some sort of financial system in place. It doesn’t have to be strictly defined or micromanaged. Each family has its own rhythm and routine.
You can simply automate your bill payments, investments, savings, etc and have a system on checking up on that. You can have someone be in charge of researching investment options and someone look at cutting monthly expenses. Don’t worry if it’s what other people are doing; just worry if it’s not working for you.
Communication Productively on Your Finances
Pick the right time to discuss your finances. Be wise about when you sit down and have a chat. Work out a time that you can both agree on and set a limit on how long it will take. You don’t have to tackle every issue in one meeting. Keep it to 30 minutes or less and have one goal that you’d like accomplished. Keeping it short helps you to keep to the point.
How you frame the issue matters. Money can be a delicate subject, as many of us have developed habits over time. understand that things won’t change overnight and you need to listen. I’ve found paraphrasing what my husband says as an effective way to make sure we’re on the same page.
Write down once you agree on something. This is a useful tool to help both of you see what you need to do. After defining your goal, check in with one another to see if you’re both working towards it.
Celebrate the victories, big and small. Did you both open an IRA? Did you pay off a credit card bill? Make sure you celebrate the wins you have together. Money shouldn’t always be about work and sacrifice.
Your Thoughts on Family and Finances
How do you handle discussing finances as a family? What has worked? What has backfired?
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Congrats Hugh and I wish you two well! It’s a process, so combine your finances at a pace that works for you guys.
This is a timely topic, as I just got married May 15. While my wife and I have been living together for 2 years and we have developed some finance systems, now is the time when we really combine everything and begin working toward our short and long term goals. We haven’t gotten into the process yet, but I already understand that open communication is by far the biggest factor.
Thank Norcross for sharing your thought son it. When we first got engaged we shared all the numbers with our finances. I had debt while he didn’t. It was a bit awkward, but at least we were on the same page.
Fortunately, I knew getting into the relationship that my wife’s student loans from law school would be an issue (and a burden) for quite some time, so it wasn’t a ‘surprise, I can’t manage money’ situation. But it’s still a bit difficult at times, that’s for sure.
This hits home, a lot. I can say that 95% of all the tension / arguments that my wife and I have are some way tied to money. Usually it’s because we don’t have enough (her student loans are upwards of $2000 a month) or because one of us spent money without the other knowing. Keeping the dialogue open the entire time is difficult, but it’s been the biggest thing we’ve done to help work through it. And once that line of communication is open, other things are easier to talk about.