When you say your wedding vows, you and your spouse are promising to be a team in all aspects of life, including your finances.
It can be challenging, but here are some strategies to help you work together in your financial life.
- Maintain Joint Bank Accounts and Credit Cards.
If you come together “as one”, it should be in all ways, including financially. Having joint bank accounts and credit cards brings your debts, income and savings together. Joint financial accounts make it more convenient to equally track and maintain expenses and it provides a legal and financial safety net if one spouse is to unfortunately become ill or pass away.
- Talk Regularly About Money.
Have an open dialogue about how you will approach financial situations such as debt, investing, everyday spending, saving, emergencies and bills. Set a regular meeting, at least quarterly, to discuss your finances. A January recap with your financial advisor is helpful. Finances should never be a topic that you shy away from in a marriage. You should never hide money, purchases or debt from your spouse.
- Ideally, Review the Budget Together.
Create a budget and review it together each month. If you don’t do a budget, set a monthly meeting to at least read the checkbook and credit card statements together.
- Divide and Conquer Tasks.
Don’t let one spouse carry all the burden for managing finances. Divide and conquer the tasks together. Opposites often attract. If your spouse is the “numbers person” in the marriage, don’t use that as an excuse not to be informed about your joint finances. Take the time to review everything together regularly so that you are both on the same page.
- Set Spending Limits.
Large, unexpected purchases can be a point of contention in a marriage, so it is important to agree that neither of you will spend more than X dollars without consulting the other. Setting a guideline for spending can help prevent unpleasant surprises.
Michael J. Swanson
President and Chief Executive Officer