Budgeting, Personal Finance, Relationships

5 Rules for a Financially Blissful Marriage

happy weddingIf there’s anything designed to ruin a marriage, it’s money. Not only could tension be created by the amount coming in, but there could be different money styles – a hoarder vs. a spender.

My husband and I, thankfully, have similar styles. He’s more of a tightwad than I am, but we can find the middle ground after a bit of discussion…OK, maybe a lot of discussion. But we’re talking and compromising, and eventually it makes us both financially content.

Come to an agreement

At the beginning of our marriage, we let almost a year go by before we actually had a talk about “our” money. There was trouble brewing. Among other things, what I spent on household items troubled him and I was annoyed by his pickiness. Several heated debates got us nowhere, so we decided to calmly sit down and go over the finances.

We use personal finance software on our computer to track our finances. I believe several new budget categories saved our relationship:

Household & Groceries – The money I use to buy groceries, toiletries, etc. was made more transparent for my husband by putting it in its own category. In addition, I use the “split” function and itemize the receipt if it contains items that go in another category.

Fishing – Boat fuel, fishing gear, bait, launch fees and licensing fees go in this category. If I’m curious, I can check how much my husband is spending on gear and supplies. He also checks it every so often to see if he feels his spending is out of control.

Home Improvement – My husband used to file these expenses into the Household & Groceries category, thus inflating the totals and making my heart jump when I would check my spending. Once the Home Improvement category was created, it made it easier for me to track any overspending on food and household goods.

Share your information

There should be no hiding big purchases in a financially blissful marriage. I thought we were in trouble when my husband came home the other day and gushed, “You won’t believe the deal I got on these fishing rods!” My initial thought was, “What happened to my thrifty husband, who can always be relied on to resist spending?” Once recovered, I rallied and asked about the great deal (which was really good) and thanked him for letting me know.

Luckily, he felt comfortable sharing his splurge with me. He could have easily hidden it and I would have wondered where the money went and created a scene.

I have to admit there are small purchases that go unmentioned: the serving of sushi I add to the grocery cart and the candy bars that he grabs at the hardware store, but those haven’t caused trouble yet.

Agree on savings

In these financially strapped times, what could be harder than adding to your savings? Not having a savings at all!

Our first budget included retirement savings, investment funds, and a general savings allotment. It sure seemed like a lot off the top at the time, but it has gotten easier over the years. Agree on the amount together and take it out right away every month. Add to that amount when one of you gets a raise. You’ll learn to live without that money and soon won’t even notice it’s gone.

Take turns paying the bills

My husband’s work gets busier this time of the year, so I take over paying the bills. In the beginning, I’d hang back and let him do the work even though I’d spent the previous 14 years handling my own finances. Finally, he turned to me and said, “You know, you could help here!”

While not words of romance, this prod reminded me he was fine with my involvement in our finances. Now, whoever has the time makes sure the bills are up-to-date. If something is outstanding, we leave it in a central place where the other can pick it up when time allows.

Check in regularly

We are due for an update meeting. It’s been several months since we’ve discussed our savings plan and how paying off our debts is going. Christmas, and its associated expenses, is coming…

Once you are on the same financial page as your spouse, check in at least every three months to make adjustments, discuss the savings, and chat about any financial goals, i.e. paying off debt, starting the kids’ college fund, or taking out a loan to repair the roof.

In these meetings, make sure the other is completely comfortable with how the spending and savings is going. If not, be willing to discuss improvements. Make adjustments to the budget. Re-evaluate in at least another three months.

After all these years, I can’t say our financial life is worry-free, but I know my husband and I have a plan and have learned to trust each other with “our” money. Now that’s a blissful marriage!

Image courtesy of HR

5 thoughts on “5 Rules for a Financially Blissful Marriage

  1. I hope you have something you feel that you can spend on! It looks like your husband has fishing but you have nothing equivalent…

  2. I really loved your rules. My husband and I talked about money prior to getting married. We actually already had a draft plan done before the wedding. We also share the responsibility of finances and never hide purchases. After 12 years of marriage, I can count on one hand how many times we’ve argued over money. I recently did a post on two different experiences with money before marriage.

  3. Your rules are great! We’ve been married 25 years and never had an argument about money but we just got lucky, because we never had the money discussion before marrying.
    One indication that we were both cautious spenders, though,, was that our entire wedding only cost $600 (this was back in 1983) and we used coupons for the cake, invitations and flowers! Begin as you mean to continue, I say!

  4. I can’t believe how many couples still get married without knowing their partner’s financial habits.

    One of the biggest factors in your accumulation of wealth is the person you choose to be your spouse.

    I fell in love at first sight, and I married the girl (proposed the night we met). But, I still vetted her financial planning and would’ve called it off if we were on different tangents.

    Marriage is not one ceremony, or one year. It’s a life long committment. Money is the same thing, not one budget, but a lifetime committment. Why marry someone you will fight with all of your life?

    Would a PETA member marry a fur trapper? Compatibility is huge! Make your rules and present them to your significant other BEFORE you get married. Then watch their response…

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