7 Top Money Tips for a Happier Marriage

happily married couple making each other laugh in the kitchen

Whether you’re a newlywed or you’ve been married for years, you know that money can be one of the greatest struggles inside any relationship.

In fact, the second leading cause of divorce in North America, behind infidelity, is related to money problems and money fights?

As the old saying goes, opposites attract and where money is concerned you may have fallen in love with someone who has a completely different philosophy when it comes to handling finances. Instead of continually pulling in opposite directions and hoping for the best, utilize these 7 tips when it comes to managing the money in your marriage.


1. Combine Finances

Yes, number one on our list is also the elephant in the room: combining finances when you get married.

There are many reasons for combining finances, but the most important is to provide full transparency when it comes to spending and saving. According to a study by Ramsey Solutions, problems around finances were the second leading cause of divorce in North America. So, having your finances out in the open for each partner to see, may dramatically reduce arguments and tension over money.

Not only will combining finances create transparency, but even better, it creates simplicity. When money is kept separate, you have to answer questions like — who pays the rent and who pays for groceries, who pays for date night and who pays the babysitter when you return from date night?

Keep in mind that if you can share a relationship, share the kids, and share a bed, then sharing a bank account should not be too big of a stretch.


2. Create Goals Together

If you’re married or in a committed relationship, then you are fully aware that opposites attract. Although you may be opposite in some (or most) areas of life, a healthy relationship means getting on the same page with the finances.

Chances are one of you came into the relationship with more debt than the other, more money than the other, and more financial knowledge than the other. Whatever the case may be, the best thing you can each do is create goals together.

Ask each other:

  • Where do we want to be 5,10 and 30 years from now?
  • What does retirement look like and when is retirement?
  • Do we plan to travel and how often?
  • How will we talk to our kids about money?

Start there and add to the list of questions as you each see fit. After you have your questions, it is time to answer those questions together. Your answers may not be exactly the same but maybe you’ll lean in a common direction. Once you have your goals created, then together decide how you will reach those goals you both created.


3. Create and Stick to a Budget

“If You Fail to Plan, You Are Planning to Fail”
—Benjamin Franklin

Oh no, the dreaded “B” word.

Before you decide to throw in the towel on a budget, take a second to consider this — a budget is simply telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.

In fact, the largest study ever recorded on the behaviors of millionaires found that 93% create a budget and stick to it.

When you and your spouse are not living on a monthly written plan for your finances — aka a budget – then you are merely guessing on where your money will be spent.

The truth is you work too hard to earn money to leave how and where it will be spent to chance. Together, create a plan and then follow it. Your futures selves will thank you.


4. Have Frequent Money Talks Together

According to the Couples and Money Study conducted by Fidelity, couples who communicate about their finances are more likely to:

  • Expect to live a comfortable lifestyle in retirement
  • Rate their household's financial health as excellent or very good
  • Discuss finances together at least monthly
  • Say that money is not their greatest relationship challenge

Now, this doesn’t mean every night you sit down as a couple, pull out the financial calculator, and get to work on your finances.

Instead, set aside time at least once per month for money talks. Ask each other about what is currently happening inside their daily finances. You can discuss things like how much money is currently in your accounts and whether there is a large expense in the near future.

Also, as a couple, talk over the financial goals you’ve each set and discuss your progress. Are you both on track to reach those goals or do you need to make changes?

Remember, the circumstances in your life are always changing and that means your financial goals may also have to change. Without frequently talking about money and your goals, it will become harder to manage your finances together.


5. The $100 Rule

While financial transparency is important in a marriage, it can also become a little overwhelming to share every tiny expense with your partner throughout the week or month.

Instead, set an amount you are both comfortable with where you don’t need to contact your spouse before spending.

For example, create a $100 rule that allows each of you to spend up to $100 without your spouse’s input.

Now of course, this shouldn’t include expenses such as groceries, bills, or fuel for your car, just those unexpected or impulsive purchases. That may be a flashy pair of shoes, the latest wearable device, or something you discovered online and just had to have.

If it’s less than $100, then buy it. But if it’s more than $100, make a quick call to your spouse and get their input.


6. Lean on Each Other’s Differences

When it comes to marriage, it’s normal to have different spending (and saving) habits. In fact, one of you will probably tend to spend more, while the other is trying to save to make up for the overspending.

“If two people were exactly alike, one of them would be unnecessary”.
—Larry Dixon

This constant push and pull can create unnecessary stress inside the marriage but there is a solution that will help both the saver and the spender.

Saver: It’s time to spend more than you normally would with your partner’s help. Set aside an agreed upon amount and go buy something. Release the grip you have on money and allow some of it to flow through you.

Spender: It’s time to save more money than you may think is necessary. Decide with your partner how much you will start saving each month and stick to that goal.


7. Don’t Forget About the Kids and Money

If you and your spouse don’t teach your kids about money, someone else will. When it comes to teaching your kids about money, the number one rule is more is caught than taught – which means your child is going to learn more about finances by observing their parents’ habits than from anything else.

How you and your spouse manage money inside the marriage may directly impact how your child manages finances when they become adults. If money is the source of stress inside the marriage, your child may associate money with stress. The good news is the opposite is also true.

Beyond the more is caught than taught principle, you both should also actively teach your children how to manage the money.

As your children grow, teach them different phases of finances. For example, young children in preschool and kindergarten are visual learners. So, have them save money in a clear jar and show them money leaving the jar when they make a purchase.

Once your child enters elementary school and middle school, you can broaden your lessons to teach them the opportunity costs of money and stress the importance of saving. Creating saving habits at age 10 will pay dividends at age 35.

Once your child enters high school, start to involve your child in your finances. Show them how much the mortgage costs each month, how much the utility bill is, and how much you pay in taxes. Encourage them to figure out ways to earn income, set aside savings and even how to start investing.

So many of us say to ourselves, “if I only knew then what I know now, I would…”

Keep that in mind when you’re thinking about what to share with your kids about money.

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A Financially Happy Marriage

It can be argued that money touches every single aspect of our life. Therefore, if money is a constant stress or worry, those emotions are going to ripple across every part of our lives — including our marriages.

When you take the time to combine finances and create goals together, you start working together instead of pulling apart. Make it a priority to have frequent money talks and if you have children, include them in some of those conversations.

Lastly, keep in mind that life, money and marriage are constantly changing, and you will continually need to adapt your finances as life moves forward.

Chris “Peach” Petrie is the founder of Money Peach. Money Peach partnered with OneAZ to provide free financial education to members across the state. To learn more about OneAZ’s partnership with Money Peach, click here.

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