Some say the secret to a happy marriage is communication, some say it’s honesty and others say it’s compromise. Among other things, I personally think it’s a combination of all three…especially when it comes to money in your marriage.
If you could go back to the first year of your marriage, what financial advice would you give yourself? I know that I would do some things differently and I’m sure so would Nick – although he’s my boyfriend, not my husband.
As both a long time girlfriend and a financial planner here is some financial advice for a happy marriage:
Over communicate to the point of annoyance
Reminding your spouse about an upcoming bill, significant withdrawal from your bank account or major expense is always a good idea. You may think you’re being annoying, but trust me when I say it’s a lot better to over communicate than assume your spouse is aware of the situation and then deal with the fallout when it comes as a complete and total shock.
It’s also a good idea to talk about major purchases such as repairs to your home, a vacation or lending money to family and friends. This way you can agree on a reasonable amount to spend and you’re both on the same page when it comes to the expense.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
In your relationship – just like in life – you win some and you lose some. A disagreement doesn’t have to be an argument. The best advice I ever received from a co-worker about relationships is that the key to happiness is compromise.
Of course you may do something differently if you were single; but you’re not, you’re in a relationship and sometimes that means keeping quiet when you spouse spends money on things you wouldn’t.
Agree on a spending threshold
It may be extremely annoying to talk with your spouse about every single purchase you make. Set a spending threshold that determines a limit of how much you can spend freely without it becoming an issue in your relationship.
Nick and I usually talk about purchases of $250 or more, but that’s because they usually involve furnishings for our apartment. We very rarely spend that amount of money on ourselves. The last two major purchases we made were our new king size bed and our sofa back in October. Other than that it’s been smooth sailing.
Don’t forget about your personal goals
As one half of a long time couple I can tell you that there’s nothing worse than those “we” couples. You know, the type of woman who says “I’ll have to check what we’re doing” before committing to plans and response is “Oh yes we love it” when you ask if she likes something.
It’s important to keep your individuality when in a couple, this applies to your personality as well as your money. The last thing you want to do is be divorced without any of your own assets or savings – that’s not a good situation to be in.
What’s your best financial advice for a happy marriage?