Finance and romance, both can make people crazy. Put them together and you might just double the insanity. If you’re in a committed relationship, however, there’s no way around it. Whether you’re already married or on your way, here are some tips for managing your money as a couple:
Talk about it: Not everybody is great with money, but that doesn’t have to be a deal breaker if both parties are completely honest and know what they’re getting into. Be totally up front about debt, spending habits, ideas about money and financial values. If there are serious conflicts, seek counseling before tying the knot.
Don’t leave it to chance: So you’ve gotten everything out on the table, now what? It’s time to work out not just a budget but a comprehensive plan about how you and your partner will manage your finances. Who will be responsible for paying the bills? How will financial decisions be made? What principles will guide you if you disagree? Think through as many scenarios as possible and decide how you’ll handle them – together.
Learn something: If you never learned how to manage your money like a grownup, guess what? It’s not too late. Take an online course or a class at a local college, sign up for a one-night workshop with your honey, or check out a book on home finance from the library – anything you can do to get smarter about your finances will help.
Don’t mix business and home finance: Even if you’re in business with your spouse, make sure to keep all business accounts and transactions completely separate. Don’t dip into household funds to pay business expenses and vice versa. Make sure records are well-kept and complete.
Know the meaning of “marital property”: If you’re not going to get a prenup, you can still protect personal or family assets like property or a business by keeping it completely separate from your spouse in both policy and practice.
Revisit your insurance: Once you get married, your insurance premiums can change dramatically (usually for the better!). Visit with your insurance agent to update your status and rates; and check with your workplace to adjust healthcare plans accordingly.
Know your strengths: When you’re married, it makes no sense to go even-Steven on every last thing, and that includes finances. One of you may make more money, and one of you might be better at or even enjoy handling joint financial matters more than your spouse. That’s OK – just go with it!
Do what works: There are lots of books and programs out there with literally hundreds of ideas about how to manage your money within a marriage. That’s a great place to start; but it’s important to test these suggestions in real life, and do what works the best for you and your sweetheart. Steer clear of “shoulds” and instead find what actually works for your relationship and lifestyle.