The following post is by MPFJ staff writer, Catherine Alford. Cat is a freelance personal finance writer who blogs at www.BudgetBlonde.com.
I write a lot about money and marriage because I think it’s such an important topic. Not only that, it’s something that can be constantly improved and worked on. Much like marriage itself, compromising on finances takes a significant amount of work and communication, and it’s definitely worth all the effort you put into it!
First, when it comes to money and marriage, I think it’s completely natural to want to do everything your way. For example, I always think my money ideas are the best ideas, never mind that my husband may have a few ideas of his own! However, I’ve realized over time that the whole point of a marriage is to work together on challenging issues, and becoming financially independent is one of the biggest obstacles and most rewarding goals in life. So, what’s required to achieve these goals is a lot of compromise, listening to each other’s viewpoints, and talking through important financial topics.
Below are some of the ways that I’ve compromised when it comes to money and marriage, and I’d love to hear some of the ways you’ve worked out money issues as well!
1. Short-Term Vs. Long-Term
When my husband and I got engaged, we had to go to a pre-marital weekend retreat to get married in the church. Instead of grumbling about this minor inconvenience, we decided to actually try to get something out of it, and it was actually really valuable.
One of the exercises that we did was sit back-to-back and answer important questions by raising our hands. For example, the proctor would ask a question like, “Who’s going to cook dinner most of the time in your house?” If you thought it was you, you had to raise your hand then turn around to see if your partner agreed.
We were doing pretty well with this exercise until we got to the questions about money. When the proctor asked, “Who will be handing the finances in your marriage?” both my husband and I shot our hands up. We both thought we should be the one handing it!
It was a funny moment, but it was also an important one. There we were just a few months from getting married after 4 years of dating, and we had never talked about who would handle the money!
The proctors had a great suggestion, one we use to this day. They said to have one person handle short-term finances and one person handle long-term finances. Ever since then, we’ve never wavered. He handles all of our investments, retirement funds, and makes decisions like choosing stocks. I pay all of our bills, handle our savings accounts, make money goals, and keep him updated on our progress. It really is the perfect balance, and it allows both of us to feel like we are contributing to our overall financial goals.
2. Have Your Own Money
Veteran couples swear by this tip. Let each person have a set amount of spending money every month. I didn’t do this at first. I thought that it wasn’t a big deal, until my husband finally told me that it really bothered him every time he had to ask for money. After all, he’s almost 30 years old and in medical school. I think he can probably handle a bit of cash! I didn’t even think about how our system affected to him until he told me that so ever since then, I split my money into envelopes when I get my paycheck, and I always give him money just for him to use, no questions asked.
This makes him feel like more of an adult, and it also helps alleviate the impression that I’m always looking over his shoulder when he buys things. Now, he can go on campus and buy himself a coke without feeling odd about it.
3. Forgive Each Other
When it comes to money and marriage, we’re all going to make mistakes. It’s unavoidable. I’ve paid my husband’s credit card late completely on accident and felt terribly about it. In the future, he might choose a stock that plummets the next day. It happens. It’s life.
Of course, some mistakes are worse than others. If your spouse drained your retirement fund to go to the casino, that’s a different story, but for day-to-day blips, it’s important not to blame each other and remember which team you’re on.
I’m sure there are many more tips out there for compromising when it comes to marriage and money. Essentially, it’s all about maintaining communication and respecting each other when you make decisions. In the future, I know my husband and I will have even more to learn about finances and marriage as we continue on our journey, but it makes me happy to know that I share my goals with someone who is just as willing to work hard to make them happen.
How about you all? How do you compromise when it comes to money in your relationships?
Share your experiences by commenting below!
***Photo courtesy of http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6235/6355220839_792984400f_o.jpg