Women’s Series: Marriage & Money Management
I got married in 2006 when I was 26 years old. At that point in my life I had already started saving in my 401k, had a cash savings and had already started house shopping: I felt pretty comfortable with my financial situation and wasn’t really interested in adding another person to my financial life.
I know that sounds selfish, but I had been self-sufficient in managing my daily expenses, my savings and the last thing I wanted was a man telling me what to do especially, with the money I had worked hard to earn. So, I did what every independent woman would do: I told him we were going to keep all of our finances separate. He didn’t agree. I won the argument, but a year later we ended up combining everything anyway. I was more shocked than he was because I was the one who made the suggestion. We combined our savings account and checking account.
Why did we combine? For us there were a couple of reasons; the first was for convenience. I was and still am in charge of paying all of the bills every month and I got tired of paying everything and then asking him to write me one big check for his half – yes even-Steven for us! And, more importantly, we were still thinking of each other as just individuals – making decisions based on individual needs & wants. We were not thinking as a married couple. We needed to learn how to make the best decisions for us as a couple instead of us as individuals. As many of you know marriage is hard and one of the biggest arguments in marriage can be financial, so we set up some ground rules. They may sound elementary, but we follow them to this day. You may find them useful.
Ground rule #1: We have to discuss every large purchase with each other before making it. A large purchase for us is $100 or more.
Ground rule #2: We never touch our retirement money
Ground rule #3: We agree upon spending limits for Christmas gifts before we start shopping. This can easily get out of control especially if you have kids.
Ground rule #4: No one goes into debt without a discussion first and a plan to pay it off
Like I said before; these rules are pretty elementary, but they work for us and keep us in check.
My suggestion is to be very open about your finances with your spouse especially before you get married. If there are financial issues discuss them and have a plan to resolve the issues prior to marriage. Even if there are no issues to address, discussing your financial philosophy before marriage will give you time to figure out a new or improved married philosophy that will work for the both of you.
I know that some women that have been in a divorce may not feel comfortable combining their finances later and that’s definitely ok. Every couple needs to do what is most comfortable for them and what makes sense for their marriage. I think setting up ground rules for spending is important so that you are always on the same page. If you can eliminate at least one of the biggest arguments married couples have you are on the right track!
Our next newsletter will be based on kids and money – ways to teach your kids about money, saving and budgeting.
CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™
Any opinions are those of Christina Jones and not necessarily those of Raymond James.