The idea that money puts a wrench in your plans for marital bliss isn’t exactly a groundbreaking one. Money woes, stress and arguments can taint even the happiest of marriages, especially if you and your spouse aren’t on the same financial page. To combat some of the battles you fight over your bank balance, it’s important to follow some seriously simple money commandments — as a team. While they won’t stop all money-related fights in your home, they can help you see eye-to-eye so you aren’t totally tearing your hair out.
Thou Shalt Create a Budget
I don’t care if you’re a multimillionaire or a middle class family, creating a budget is just smart. By sitting down, seeing what’s coming in and planning for everything going out of your bank account, you’re controlling your money — not the other way around. It also serves as an eye-opener, especially if one of you spends more than the other (ahem, guilty as charged). Going sans budget means you’re flying blind and more likely to get into a fight when the well runs dry and the blame game starts.
Thou Shalt Check in Regularly
Okay, I definitely get it: sometimes your bank balance makes you want to hide your head in the sand. But all that hiding isn’t going to help your marriage. If you really are committed to working as a team, you’ll need to check in regularly on money matters. It doesn’t have to be a big deal — once a month, pour a couple of glasses of wine, sit at the computer or table together and check in to make sure you’re on track with your budget. Hey, it might be that you have an extra bit of play money one month or are hoping to contribute more to your savings another month. Play nice and make it a regular habit and you don’t have to hide from money discussions.
Thou Shalt Tell the Truth
“Um, these shoes? I’ve had them forever!” Ever catch yourself in a little white money lie? While it might reduce stress in the moment, lying about purchases, your bank balance or anything else money-related lands you in hot water every time. Whether it means being found out later or a decimated budget, the truth will come out and you will get into a fight over it. Honesty’s the best policy or risk the wrath of yet another money-related yelling match.
Let’s face it: living paycheck to paycheck sucks. So as soon as you have a little wiggle room, it’s time to think ahead to a time when you won’t be able to rely on your paycheck: retirement. Thinking about money for the month is awesome, but thinking about the long-term picture means you’re both on the same page for the future. I love having a separate retirement account and regular, scheduled withdrawals from my main bank account. Out of sight, out of mind and it’s a non-issue in my marriage.
Thou Shalt Do What Works for You
After a couple of years of marriage, my husband and I finally came to the realization that something wasn’t working when it came to sharing our money. We decided to maintain separate bank accounts instead of a joint and we’ve been happily split — bank account-wise — ever since. Some of my friends can’t fathom the idea of separate bank account, but so what? It takes trial and error but over time, you’ll get into a groove that works for you, your spouse and your money, no matter if it’s conventional or not.
So, did I get them all? Do you have a commandment to add to the list?
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