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When we get married, we make that common pledge when we’re at the altar…
“For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer.”
We vow to stick together in the good times and the bad times. We promise to love one another, no matter what our financial situation.
However, money is the leading cause of stress in many relationships and, in some cases, can lead to one or both parties jumping ship and applying for a divorce. So much for those wedding vows then!
So, considering your relationship, think about what you could do to reduce the chances of financial stress, and to curb the temptation to research Family Law lawyers about the subject of divorce. Your marriage is important, and it would be a shame to break your marriage vows because the problem of money has driven a wedge in your relationship.
Here are some tips we hope you find useful.
#1: Take steps to improve your financial footing
If you are struggling to cope with a poor financial situation, the best way to alleviate the stress involved is to take proactive steps to improve your financial footing. As seen in our linked article, this includes budgeting your money so you don’t spend more than you should and finding ways to get out of debt. Of course, as a couple, you need to do this together. Your relationship will be strained if you put aside money each month to save or to help pay off debts, but your partner fritters it away on non-essentials, so work out your financial situation as a team. This includes setting limits on spending and together trying to come up with ways to save money around the home.
#2: Talk to your partner about his spending habits
If your partner is spending more than you think he should, you need to let him know gently. While you shouldn’t try to control how he uses the money he has earned himself, you might still remind him of where it could be better spent, especially if you think he is being overly frivolous and putting your finances in jeopardy. If you can do this without making a big scene and being confrontational, he might be ready to listen. If he doesn’t take you seriously, talk about the shared goals you have together. As you will see in our next point, this might cause him to think twice about spending on non-essential items.
#3: Talk about financial goals
As individuals, you will both have financial goals of your own. You should communicate them to one another, so you both know where each other is coming from. While you might not always agree with one another, you both need to understand that certain things will make the other person happy, so provided these goals don’t bring you both into financial ruin, you should allow for compromise. For this reason, you might both have separate bank accounts where individual earnings could be set aside to accommodate such goals.
You also need to discuss shared goals. It might be to plan for a family holiday, to get out of debt, or to save for retirement. It’s here where a shared bank account comes in useful, as aside from your own separate accounts, you might put money into the shared account for the lifestyle you will share as a couple. By talking about these goals, you can put yourselves on the same page when it comes to savings. This should hopefully give you both incentive to spend less money on anything that shouldn’t be a priority.
#4: Seek financial advice
If neither of you is particularly money savvy, then it makes sense to speak to a financial advisor. He or she will help you budget, give you advice about your savings, and point out any problems that could scupper your finances. Be sure to see the financial advisor together, however, because as we have suggested, you need to be on the same page about your finances. You might then do other things together as a couple to build financial wisdom. For example, you might enrol yourselves onto a money-management course, as this will be useful to you both, not only for the bonding that comes through a shared activity but to give you both the skills you need to manage your household finances.
#5: Role-model good behaviour
We suggested talking to your partner about his spending habits, but how about your own? Do you come back with more shopping bags than you should after a day in town? Do you spend money from your shared bank account without telling your partner? Do you put less into the shared account than you should? There are some behaviours you might expect from your partner, but if you don’t practice what you preach, two things will happen. Firstly, an argument might erupt between you. Secondly, if you don’t practice good money habits, your partner might follow your example and fall into bad habits too. This will cause strain in your relationship on both a financial and a personal level.
#6: Have a weekly money meeting
We know there are better ways to spend your time together, but setting aside time to talk about money will give you both the opportunity to look at your budget, track spending, share worries and concerns, and reaffirm goals. You might also take this opportunity to bring up touchy subjects without yelling or shouting at one another, such as overspending by the other person. As a team, you can then work out your finances, and figure out strategies for moving forward and making improvements where necessary.
#7: Remember your vows
Finally, remember your marriage vows. There will be times when the stress of money takes its toll on you both. You might both make mistakes with the money you share in your relationship. And one or both of you might say things you regret. However, remember that you both said you would love each regardless of being rich or poor, so remind yourselves to forgive each other when mistakes are made, and let working out your money problems be an opportunity to bring you closer together instead of driving you apart.
Take care, and thanks for reading!