Dealing with financial issues can be one of the most difficult things you do in a marriage. It’s common to have different financial priorities. They aren’t always easy to talk about. Money problems are often cited in divorces. Financial issues have to be discussed in a relationship, yet it’s a topic many would as soon avoid. That’s why there are so many money mistakes that can mess up your marriage.
Not Discussing Debts
Many families have debts to deal with, from paying off college loans to credit card debts to your mortgage. Paying on these debts can take up a major chunk of your income, and limit the things you can do. Failing to discuss what this means to your finances and your marriage is one of the easiest money mistakes to make.
This can be especially difficult when dealing with debt that one spouse held before the marriage. Sometimes there’s disagreement on whose responsibility it is, or if the responsibility is shared. There may be resentment that one person’s debt is making finances difficult for the entire family.
When you marry, everything about that person comes with it. That includes debts. It’s important to know what debts are being brought into the marriage before it happens, and more important to deal well with them during the marriage. No blaming the other person for them, especially if the debts paid for a college degree that helped them into a better job. You need to be partners in handling debts, regardless of how they happened.
Of course, if debts are due to the poor spending habits of one spouse, that’s another discussion. And it’s important. Spending too much is one of those money mistakes that makes problems worse.
Not Making A Budget
Having a budget can cut down arguments over finances. They are often difficult to agree upon. It’s vital to sit down and take a look at your expenses and what you can afford to spend on non-necessities.
Once you know where you have to spend money and what it comes out to, you can consider the places each of you would like to spend money. Some couples give each person a monthly allowance. Some have a price limit after which they need to check with their partner for approval. As a couple, you need to decide what works for you together. How much freedom you can give each person in spending will depend on how much extra room you have in your budget.
Do your best to have room for savings toward retirement, big purchases and vacations, as well as for emergencies. This may not be possible if your budget is tight, but it’s a huge help when you can manage it. There are a lot of ways to save money, just make sure that they’re worth it.
Not Sticking To A Budget
If one or both partners fails to stick to a budget, having a budget has very little benefit. Poor spending habits can increase credit card debt, which gets expensive fast.
If one or both partners in a relationship constantly ignores the budget, you’ll have problems. It will be much like you have no budget at all. Knowing what you can afford to spend and keeping to those limits is a huge help in avoiding financial stress in your relationship.
Paying Too Much Attention To Income Differences
It’s rare that a couple brings equal incomes to the family. Sometimes they let this be a point of contention. The higher income spouse may argue that they should have more personal spending money because they earn more. The one who earns less or nothing at all may find it difficult to speak up when he or she needs more money for something.
The vital thing to remember is that both partners bring different things to the family. The spouse who earns less may work just as many hours as the one who earns more. One might be a stay at home mom or dad, and that’s their contribution to the family.
Some jobs may require spending more in terms of wardrobe or other things. In most ways, however, both spouses should have equal opportunities to spend money on themselves. The money either person earns should belong to the family more than to that person. Who earns the most shouldn’t be an issue.
Failing To Assign Responsibility For Bills
Even with the auto pay option most bills have these days, couples should know who is going to pay which bill, and when it is due. This helps you to avoid unpaid bills.
The simplest thing to do is have a joint account for all household bills. This includes rent or mortgage, utilities and other necessities for the family. Many couples choose to have separate accounts for personal spending if they can afford it. Having shared bills paid from the joint account makes it easier to be certain that the money is available for those bills. If times are tight, money from individual accounts may have to go to the shared account to help out. Keeping on top of regular bills is far more important than having fun money.
Some bills you still have to remember to pay on time. I just had to send in the registration payment for my husband’s car, for example. I handle most of the bills that aren’t on auto pay here because my husband and I both know I’m more likely to remember them.
Failing To Compromise
You aren’t always going to agree with each other right away. Sometimes you will have to compromise on financial issues. Don’t make this too difficult, so long as the compromise requested is reasonable for your financial situation. Talk to each other about why you see things differently. Most times you should be able to come to an agreement that works.
Failing To Work As A Team: One Of The Biggest Money Mistakes
If you’re in a marriage or other long term relationship, you need to work as a team toward your short and long term financial goals. Talk out your disagreements about money. Plan for your financial future.
If one partner makes a mistake and goes off budget, talk about what happened and how to avoid the same problem in the future. Don’t keep dragging it up forever once the problem has been resolved. Reminding someone that they’ve caused the family financial distress isn’t productive for long. It’s certainly not productive if their habits have since improved and your budget is in good shape again.
Don’t let money mistakes mess up your marriage without trying to talk them out. You can make things work if both spouses are willing.