Couples Finance

by Dual Income No Kids on September 30, 2009 · 0 comments

How do couples split up the task of managing finances? James and Miel recently tweeted about this topic and it got me thinking. In many ways, managing your money is no different than any other task, whether it be mowing the lawn or doing the dishes; it’s just another responsibility that needs to be split up between the members of the family. But at the same time, there is an element of doing the family finances that distinguishes it from the other household tasks.

With my wife and I, managing the finances is a task that falls on both of us, but in different ways. I am the one who does most of the “work” – i.e. the one who likes generating fancy reports with Quicken – but my wife is involved at every step. Most of my investments outside of our 401(k)s were made before we were engaged and hadn’t integrated our finances yet, so I made those decisions independently; but when it comes to budgeting and planning for the future, it’s an ongoing conversation between the two of us.

When I sat down to analyze how we as a married couple discussed financial matters, it really dawned on me that the dynamic that we’ve created is a reflection of our individual personalities. My wife is more emotional, whereas I am more analytical. But at the same time, my wife likes hard deadlines (when are we going to do this, what sort of timeline are we looking at, etc…) and I’m more of a let’s-cross-that-bridge-when-we-get-there type of a guy.

I prepare for the future (i.e. automatic deposits into savings and investment accounts, weekly budget monitoring, etc…) without specifically planning for the future (i.e. we’ll have this much in this account by this time, allowing us to do this, etc…).

Conversely, my wife is less concerned about how the sausage is made so to speak, and more focused on where our current plan of action is taking us. This has lead to a push/pull relationship when it comes to discussing finances, as we both approach this issue from two almost opposite sides.

However, the more I think about it, the more I like how our personalities shape our discussions on money. She forces me to keep tangible long term goals in mind and I in turn force her to consider the realities of our daily financial situation, and give her more perspective on the steps we need to take to reach our personal and financial goals. Our skills and personality complement each other in a way that I personally feel has benefited us greatly.
A lot of financial experts are more than willing to tell you how you as a couple should run your household finances, telling you what you should and shouldn’t do. And that’s all fine and great, and there are a lot of excellent suggestions out there that should be utilized that will allow you to build your wealth together. But at the end of the day, the two of you, as a couple, need to do what works best for you, whatever the system may be.

The only suggestion that I would stress would be to communicate with your partner; let them know your goals and get to know theirs. When my wife and I started talking about our approaches to money, it really allowed us to work more efficiently towards our goals, and hopefully has put us in a better position to achieve them. We still have work to do; I still need to come up with more tangible goals (and timelines for those goals) and my wife needs to work to understand the day to day a little bit better, but hopefully as our marriage matures we’ll improve in our respective areas.

Readers: How do you approach finances with your spouse/significant other?
-Michael
Twitter: @michael_dink

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DINKS (Dual Income No Kids) Finance focuses on personal finance for couples. While by no means financial experts, we strive to provide readers with new, innovative ways of thinking about finance. Sign up now to get our ebook, "Making Money Tips for Couples" FREE.

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