Many people say that money cannot buy happiness. Although this is true, still money plays an important role in any relationship or marriage. The sad part, however, of having money as an important part of any relationship is that it also becomes a major cause of arguments and misunderstandings. With this, one of the ways to live a successful and happy marriage is to ensure that you have an understanding and arrangement of financial concerns in the relationship as early as possible.
When it comes to money, communication is very important. In many instances, problems take place not because of the money itself, but rather on the beliefs, habits, and values about money. Usually, couples may become offensive to discuss money when it is believed that romance and intimacy should be the center of the relationship.
For most couples, it is easier to discuss sex than money. According to many family backgrounds, money is a sensitive subject. Why? Because it can trigger feelings of shame or inadequacy centered on spending a lot, on not having any financial management plan, or on not saving or earning enough.
Couples are normally advised to be practical and not to be blinded by love. They have to begin an open and honest conversation about their finances. Most happy couples spare some time discussing money and setting objectives for their own and shared money.
So, how do happy couples talk about money? Here are ten better money habits that can help couples handle their finances:
- Keeping emotions out of financial discussions
Let us admit it! Marriages include various complex emotions, and being secure is one of the strongest. Unluckily, since money is an important part of a marriage, it has the ability to become a sensitive issue. Smart couples are able to manage this when they keep their emotions well-handled, especially when talking about financial issues. Through it, they are able to minimize arguments and disagreements when talking about money.
Studies suggest that having frequent talks about money can help manage emotions along the process. This is because, without communication, any financial concern or struggle can result in many arguments. Hence, topics like money should be talked about regularly.
- Have a joint & separate bank account
Many couples share a joint bank account. This account covers their regular basic necessities like mortgage or rent payments, groceries, toiletries, utilities, and others. Their monthly contributions are automatically deposited to their joint bank account. Their contributions should be proportional to their income. They also support each other when one is not earning well.
Besides the joint account, they also have their own separate credit cards and bank accounts. Most couples know the importance of independence, liberty of choice, privacy, and mutual trust. They do not stalk every move and purchase of their partner. They believe that having separate bank accounts give room for personal responsibility, personal growth, and most of all surprise gifts!
- Making budgeting and record-keeping a joint effort
It is recommended for couples to have good financial records. They should place in the record every amount that they earn, every purchase that they make and every item that they need.
For those couples who have no idea on how to do this, there are many websites that offer a way to keep track of their spending and easily plan for their budget. Couples may also opt to attend personal finance courses or read articles on money management.
- Set aside fun money
Couples who have a tight budget may find it hard to plan for a dinner date or go on a vacation because they think they cannot afford it. However, going out and spending some precious time with each other’s company regularly can help strengthen the bond between couples.
- Understand each other’s money type
Do you love to hoard money? Do you spend a lot? Are you a happy-go-lucky couple? Are you the type who loves to spend an amount on broadsheet subscription? According to a study, there are different money types.
Many contended couples know their own money type as well as their partner’s. Despite the differences, they do not attempt to change the money type their partner is. What they do is to find a common ground where they can share their similarities.
For some couples, expressing their love does not come with a price tag. Instead, they believe that they can show their love and affection by spending time with each other and through appreciative words or acts. If one of the couples is fond of buying gifts to express their affection but the other half just wants a cuddle, then it might create friction between them. This is why it is vital to understand each other’s money type and the motivation for saving, investing and spending money to help in cases of financial issues.
- Create manageable goals & realistic expectations
Another ideal money habits that couples may practice is to break down big goals into smaller, realistic and more achievable ones. For example, having to retire at 60 years old with a million dollars may sound unrealistic to a couple ages 35 years old. However, sparing a hundred dollars for investment with an aim of obtaining a thousand dollars, in the end, is much believable.
Setting achievable goals can avoid regrets that may happen when goals are overlooked and one of the couples blame the other.
- Know that money is a means, not an end
Couples must understand that money is a means or a channel to exchange services and goods. Money is used to buy foods, to obtain assets, to experience the world, and to support a lavish lifestyle. Couples know that in the end, money will not give them contentment and happiness.
Money is an important thing in any married couple. Just what the famous cliché states, “Money makes the world go round”. This is so true even in families. It makes marriages rotate because it is used to cover the necessary expenses in the family. However, money should not be the center. It must not be the motivating factor in order for a couple to be happy. It must not serve as a fuel in order to keep the fire of love burning.
With this, money should not be a reason for them to argue and eventually separate.
- Scheduling regular financial meetings
Regular financial meetings must be on the priority list of every couple. This can be an hour talk every month or a more exhaustive discussion every six months. During the meeting, the couple can talk everything about their finances and what needs to be done. Even if there is no new topic about their finances, they can still benefit from it since they are also ensuring each other that they are on the same pace when it comes to their finances.
- Maintain a security blanket
Nothing worries a marriage more than financial insecurity. In the list of family needs, financial security is said to be more than belonging and love. Couples plan for their budget, follow that budget and make a security blanket on their finances that will help them feel carefree and optimistic. This does not, however, mean that they deny themselves of material things and fun. It only means that they only spend on things they can afford.
- Keep a balance
Couples should be wise in spending money. They must be frugal but they need not hoard money. Couples need to be generous but not reckless when it comes to money. They should appreciate financial recordings, but need not allow numbers to overcome their lives. They must smoothly walk the line between play and work and the line between investing, saving and spending.
So, everything is settled, what will be next? Will it be an open and interesting discussion on money or prevent money concerns until they collapse? Couples who are contented and happy treat money as a means to an end. Money should not be a personality trait or a character flaw. Couples approach financial issues with ease and smile. They search for the arrangement of their common goals, instead of the arrangement of their personal preferences.
Finally, money-wise couples are not afraid to seek help when the need arises. This may mean consulting a finance expert for guidance, or for serious problems.
You should keep in mind that money problems are not actually money problems. Rather, they have trust issues or communication problems. Studies reveal that couples should not avoid seeking aid to address such underlying concerns.
Talking to a marriage guidance counselor or therapist is important. You must be able to talk about your financial concerns and get a fair, emotionally calm individual who can understand and help drive you to your goal.
Lastly, couples who are wise spenders are happy about their financial stability. They work hand in hand to address any money problem that will arise and make manageable goals for the future of their family. By following these habits, you can also avoid being a victim of a divorce.
Amy Sara Cores is one of the attorneys at Cores & Associates, L.L.C. a New Jersey-based family law firm dealing with child custody cases. Graduated from Florida State University (FSU), she is a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers & certified by the Supreme Court of NJ as a Matrimonial Lawyer and a part of various Bar Associations. Apart from her educational background, Amy’s has achieved many awards right from the year 2008 and was featured in the Super Lawyer’s Magazine in the year 2015. Amy also writes for various legal publications and is a regular speaker at seminars to educate young attorneys.