Couples’ happiness includes financial discipline and independence
Do you want to reduce financial stress in your marriage? While there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach, here are five tips that can help.
- Start with developing common financial goals and document them. Working with a CFP® professional is a great way to get on the same page about your near and long-term goals. A professional can also assist in creating a balanced strategy with the couple so that each partner gets what they want.
- Develop a recurring communication schedule that is set to a specific time and day on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly frequency where you discuss finances as a couple. If your discussions tend to become contentious, conduct them in a public place to help keep emotions in check.
- Work together on the household financial budget. If you do not know where it all goes, then the only way to find out is to track it on a regular basis. During the process, you will likely reduce inefficiencies that will free up more cash to save and spend. This process will also help you to prioritize your expenses. Make sure that you add a date night each month to reward yourselves.
- Discuss major household purchases before spending the money. You may think that surprising the family by buying a 75” television will bring everyone closer together, but the uninformed spouse may think quite differently about the stealthy decision. It is better to be safe than sorry and discuss all extraordinary purchases up front regardless of the amount.
- The strategy that I personally love the most is to have “mad money” accounts for each spouse. You make deposits into each account on a monthly or weekly basis and then each spouse can spend their money freely with NO questions asked. I personally use mine to take golf trips with friends and to buy ridiculously high-priced shoes. I really do not know what my wife buys with her money (that is the point!), but I suspect she might buy some shoes too. We found that implementing this strategy considerably reduced our stress and allowed us to focus more on the big picture when it came to our personal finances.
Money is probably not the thing that brought you together, but it can certainly tear you apart. The key is to open lines of communication around money and then work toward common goals that you review frequently. Most importantly, be engaged and work together through a disciplined approach to make it all happen. The rewards will be priceless.