Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes
No one goes into marriage thinking about divorce. The truth is many marriages end due to finances. Finances cause heated arguments, sneaky behavior, and resentment. What if you can stop all (or at least most) of the financial arguments? Would you try it to bring peace to your marriage?
Managing money as a couple is always complicated. What is right for me and my husband may not be right for your household. Finding the perfect money solution for any couple is hard. After all, it took me and my husband years to get on the same page about finances. Not saying things are perfect but things are a lot better than they were 5 years ago.
In 2009, when my husband and I got married, we kept our finances separate. We didn’t know how much money each person made. I was the money saver while he was the spender. We didn’t discuss our financial future such as retirement. And of course, we had separate bank accounts. It felt like we were living as “financial strangers” but we were married!
I decided we cannot live like that anymore. We shared our lives together, that means we need to share our finances. Believe it or not, we did have the “money talk” before we got married but we just never took action. So here are somethings that have helped us along the way to stop disagreeing about money.
As I mentioned, my husband and I had separate bank accounts when we were first married. We tried that for a little while, then we completely merged our finances for a little while but now we have found a happy balance. We have a joint account for bills, savings, and other expenses but we also have our own separate accounts for fun money and gift shopping. This has worked for us for the last 5 years.
I am not saying that all married couples need to have joint bank accounts, do what works best for you and your spouse, but having a joint account for at least bills makes things a lot easier. There are less money conversations that need to happen if bills are being withdrawn from the joint account for you both to see.
You are married now. If you are willing to take on the world together, you should be willing to tackle debt together. Debt is the #1 money fight starter than any other money issue (SmartMoney). Often couples feel resentment if one spouse has more debt than the other or if couples can’t get on the same page about debt issues. What is good debt versus bad debt? How much debt is too much debt?
Unfortunately, for my husband, I was the one with most of the debt. I had to come clean and admit to my student loans, car loan, and credit cards. It was more of a big deal to me than him. We put together a plan to pay off all the debt, one debt at a time, and today we are debt free!
Keeping money secrets can destroy the trust in any relationship. As hard as it might be to confess, you are better off talking about it sooner than later. Not all money secrets are big and life altering but if you are feeling guilty about an expensive purchase or hiding money in a secret account then it is best to talk to your spouse and let them know what’s going on and why you chose to hide the secret.
My husband and I had the “money talk” before we were married so all the secrets were exposed: poor credit scores, bills in collections, and bad money habits. Neither of us was innocent but we worked through it and now we are on a successful financial path.
I have learned from my experience and talking with friends that this is the number one reason why couples want to keep their money separate. I know I have been there with my husband. His spending habits drove me crazy and I was determined to never share a bank account with him again! But I got over it and we came up with a plan…a budget.
A budget is just a spending plan. It is a way for you to see where your money is going before it leaves your bank account. When I made the budget for me and my husband, I had to include extra money for him to spend and extra money for me to save. This was a budget that we both could agree on. This is what works for us.
Emergencies happen, we don’t want them to but they happen anyways. Emergencies bring panic and poor decision making. What do you do if you need to travel for a funeral, one of you lose your job, or unforeseen medical expenses? All of these emergencies can put strain on a marriage; the last thing you should be thinking about is money.
In 2014, I was laid off from my job of 8 years. I was in shock and couldn’t think straight. All I could think about was the loyalty I gave to this company. While I was in this haze, the first thing my husband tells me is to take some time off. That is exactly what I did before I started my job search. We had an emergency fund that helped cover expenses. Losing my job was stressful enough, I am glad we saved money for emergencies for times like those.
I hope this information from my experiences in my marriage helps you divorce proof your finances. Communication is key when getting on the same page about your finances. Remember there are more important things in your marriage besides money.
What are you doing to divorce proof your finances?