Managing couples finances takes a great deal of communication, finesse, understanding, respect, and humility. Being in a committed relationship takes all of this and more, with finances being one of the more touchy subjects in relationships. This takes a fair amount of emotional intelligence, and simply getting along financially with your spouse or significant other to maintain healthy finances and harmony in your relationship. The thing is about couples finance, it affects your entire life: your day to day lifestyle, goals, dreams, desires, hidden pleasures, values, your FICO score, and so much more.
Considering the financial implications of marriage, it is definitely not something to take lightly. We are advocates of considering a prenuptial agreement. With so much riding on it, there are steps that you can take to find marriage bliss. There are certainly many different dynamics in relationships as to who takes the lead financially, if there is a head of household, so to speak, and how things are managed between a couple. At the end of the day we are big advocates of marriage, and making it a true partnership, which generally includes a bit of compromise. Plus, some research shows a connection between wealth and marriage, of course this also depends on the quality of your marriage, but it can result in wealth building, as research shows that married people are often richer!
Communication. Successful couples talk about money, we often do ours as Saturday morning finance talks. This is absolutely essential to managing both a relationship and finances. We find that regular money meetings are very helpful to keep ourselves on track, as talking about finances helps to know where we are at for spending and savings, thus reaching our goals. Let’s face it, you both come with your different money histories that may often be very different in what influences you about the meaning of money, this is something that is essential to communicate about.
Preventing and Dealing with Conflict. We are big advocates for being nice to each other and preventing conflict and financial infidelity. When that doesn’t work out as planned, consider methods for getting through those difficult conversations by neutralizing the situation to help deal with conflict. Though compromise is often key, keep in mind that couples debates are part of the nature of marrying someone different than yourself. Let’s face it, there will likely be finance battles from time to time. This is could be anything from a difference in social class to spending norms, and all the psychological baggage that comes along, so just make sure you are respecting each other. Plus, avoid six finance mistakes by couples. Here is also a good Kiplinger’s video to give you a visual break.
Integrating Your Finances. Given that many couples in the states live together before getting married, finding housing may be one of the first real steps of financial integration. This means that integrating finances often happens on a gradual basis, both before and after marriage. There are ways to make this process easier when dividing up household expenses, and negotiating a joint budget. While we find that keeping our account management mostly separate works best for us, we also recognize the virtues of joint accounts as well. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter what works best for you, it is the process that matters. Just remember to live within your means people and spend consciously. There are definitely ways to socialize without breaking the bank. Also remember that as you begin to integrate your finances that the importance of wills cannot be understated. This is particularly the case if you are like us, and actually bought our place together before getting marriage, when there aren’t legal protections, or if you are in a same sex relationship as well. Check out this video as well about integrating your finances.
Careers. Don’t be afraid to ask for more money. Here are a few things to keep in mind when the possibility of layoffs loom.
Growing beyond DINKs. The majority of couples tend to start off as DINKs and transform into nuclear families in the traditional sense. Preparing for the possibility of children while being in the financially advantageous place of being DINKs can make having kids much easier.
Long Distance Marriages. Though we enjoy being back on the same continent these days, at least most of the time, we also continue to share our experiences around managing a long distance marriage while Miel was in Afghanistan for just over one year. Over this period of time we dealt with life as a distance, including discussing the possibility of having James downsize to a cheaper place.