Getting married is a significant financial decision. Beyond planning and saving for the wedding and honeymoon you and your spouse are journeying down a road that determines your financial future. Here are 5 financial mistakes you should be aware of that could ruin your marriage.
Postponing Or Avoiding Planning How To Handle Your Money
Conversations about money are tough especially when finances are tight. You or your partner may feel ashamed or upset about the state of your finances, and you may tend to avoid or postpone planning your financial strategy. In doing so you are simply kicking the proverbial can down the road. More than likely failing to face your situation is making matters worse.
Start from where you are. Whatever led you to your current financial situation is in the past. Even though you and your spouse may have some regrets, you cannot change it, you can only learn from the experience. Consequently as you sit down to plan your financial future, avoid dredging up old arguments that will poison your current attempt to come up with solutions. Together identify and discuss your financial goals. Prioritize those goals and then write them down. The act of writing them down helps you to stay committed.
Allowing Your Emotions To Derail Money Conversations
For many couples, the subject of money is often the source of major arguments. How you and your partner manage your money taps into issues of trust. It speaks of character traits such as personal responsibility and reliability. When one partner makes a financial decision the other partner finds objectionable, it can unleash feelings of anger, fear and insecurity. If you are not careful, those feelings will erupt in conversation and will prevent effective communication and problem solving.
Adopt a proactive mindset. Remember you can’t change the past; you can only make changes in the present that will positively impact your future. Decide on a time to discuss your financial situation and approach the conversation with an attitude of cooperation. As you speak with and listen to your spouse, do so with respect. If you or your partner get into a heated discussion, use the strategy of time out to help manage your emotions.
Keeping Financial Secrets
According to a study completed in 2016 by the National Endowment for Financial Education, 42% of Americans interviewed kept financial secrets from their partner. Partners admitted to hiding secret purchases, debt and secret bank accounts. These couples had combined their finances and not surprisingly those indiscretions led to huge problems in their relationship.
Taking the step to combine your finances accentuates even more the importance of being trustworthy. Sometimes a partner may hesitate to share information about their financial choices because of feelings of shame or embarrassment. Admittedly, those are unpleasant feelings and if there is a need to have that conversation with your spouse- it won’t be the comfortable conversation. However, it is much better to face the music and take responsibility for your actions. Doing so opens the door for you to move forwards to resolve the problems.
Not Establishing A Workable Budget
Too often couples struggle to make it from one pay-check to the other and this leaves them feeling helpless and out of control. Some couples feel their primary problem is that they don’t earn enough and certainly this is a factor. However regardless of your income, it is important to intentionally plan how you spend and save your hard earned funds. Establishing a workable budget is the next logical step after you have created your financial goals. Your budget is your plan for saving and spending; following your budget will set you on track towards your goals.
To increase the likelihood of you and your partner following the budget, do not make it too restrictive. It’s best when you both agree on how the money will be spent. A budget is useful to help you plan for inevitable emergencies. Also make sure you each set aside discretionary funds, even if it’s a small amount, so each of you can spend on the fun things. Of course the size of your discretionary account will determine how much you can splurge.
Failing To Join Forces When Managing Your Finances
Even if you and your spouse divide your bills and keep separate bank accounts, managing your finances requires joint effort. Your union as a couple is literally the joining of two parties into one entity. If one of you is experiencing financial difficulties the other person will be affected. Creating a budget that covers your joint expenses is also a necessary step to help you move towards your identified goals. It is therefore still important to establish joint financial goals that will guide how you manage your income.
Knowing you and your partner function as a team with regards to finances reduces any feelings of resentment or feelings of being marginalized. Allowing the space to have the conversation about finances can help prevent financial secrets and disagreements. Although the conversation may be difficult joining forces to manage your finances and budget can help provide stability to your financial future.