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I recently read an article on familyshare.com titled, 4 tips on how couples should decide their finances before marriage. And I completely disagree with most of the things suggested in this article. I suppose this is kind of a rebuttal of sorts.
How to budget your money when you are married is something that I think a lot of couples wonder about. What is the right way? Is there a right way? What is the best way to avoid fights? I think we are all just hoping to avoid the money fights. But while there might not be an absolutely right way, I think there is a better way.
I’m not here to jump all over someone else’s opinion and say they are wrong. Well… okay, maybe I am in this case– I think the writer of this article is wrong.
I just thought I would throw in my two cents regarding the subject of how married couples should handle their money, while at the same time debunk some of these ridiculous suggestions.
Here are a few do’s and don’ts.
According to the article: “The person who is strict with keeping a set budget should have the control.”
Do not put all the responsibility of budgeting on the other spouse.
Yes, it is likely that one of you is more inclined to budget. Maybe one of you is more of a numbers person and understands spreadsheets and math better. But that doesn’t mean that the two of you don’t have to be active participants in the budgeting process. This should never be thrown all on your spouse or vice versa. That is neglectful, disrespectful and irresponsible. You are a partnership and should work together.
Do have regular family budget meetings to discuss the finances.
Couples should regularly, at least once a month, sit down together and discuss the household finances. You both have a say in what goes into the budget. Discussing the household finances regularly helps keep you on the same page and helps you better work toward meeting your financial goals as a couple. Budgeting together also eliminates potential money fights and arguments– I’m not saying there won’t be any fights, just that there will be less.
According to the article: “More couples are using a modern method – maintaining their own accounts.”
Don’t keep separate checking and saving accounts after you are married.
Maybe it is a millennial thing because I hear a lot about couples keeping their finances separate after they get married. I couldn’t disagree with this more. This opens the door to potential dishonestly and enables a lack of transparency. In my opinion, if you can’t trust each other enough to join your checking and saving accounts, you probably shouldn’t get married.
Do open a joint checking and savings account.
You are married now, so act like it. One checking account and two separate debit cards. This will help make budgeting and communicating about the household finances so much simpler. Both of you will know how much money is coming in, how much money is going out, and where that money is going. Marriage is about communication and understanding. When it comes to marriage having joint accounts encourages that. Also, having a combined savings account will help you more easily meet your savings goals as a couple.
According to the article: “Many couples – including my husband and I – choose to divide the bills equally, while other couples use percentages. They break down each bill based on salaries. For example, you make $500 more than your spouse, so your spouse believes you should pay a higher amount on the bills.”
I think this statement is absolutely absurd. So after you get married you should live like roommates? Should we also divide the fridge in half– your food on top and mine on the bottom? How about we just draw a line across the middle of the house– his side, her side. Seriously.
What about when it comes to saving for a vacation? If you make $500 more than your spouse, does that mean more of your money went into the vacation so you get to enjoy it more and do more while you’re there? No. There should be no dividing of the bills. There should be a total household income– what a couple brings home together– and total household expenses– what a couple pays together.
This idea of dividing the expenses in half or based on a ratio of how much each person brings home is just ridiculous. I can’t imagine a worse way to handle money as a married couple.
Do combine your income and budget your money together to pay the bills and all household expenses. In addition, budget your money together to save, invest and reach your financial goals as a couple.
Budgeting together, joining your accounts, and combining your incomes will help improve communication, trust, transparency, understanding, and unity as a couple.
If you disagree with me, feel free to blog about it. Just make sure you give me credit.