How to Avoid Money and Marriage Problems

Joseph Meyer
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Talk, Talk, Talk

Money is an issue that couples fight about as frequently as they yell at each other about it. And more often than not, it’s the woman that brings up the topic, according to a Pew study. Over half of women (55%) say they talk more about money than their husbands do, reflecting the fact that women are more interested in finances and men aren’t so interested in talking about the subject.

So instead of trying to win the battle over finances, talk about it. That means making the first move, even if you’re just touching base. The good news is that money fights are fixable. All you have to do is confront the issue and provide an alternative solution that works best for the both of you.

Budget Time

Having everything in one place makes it easy to combine your expenses.

Find a free budget worksheet on the internet and then spend a weekday or weekend recording your current monthly expenses.

Make a list of all monthly bills such as your child support payments, credit card payments and rent. Also add in food, gas and entertainment costs (music, movies, and vacations). Once you have all these costs written down, you can calculate the median, average or mode for each item. Now you can compare the figures and see how much you spend on entertainment compared to clothes, and whether you’re staying on budget.

Now roll up all these bills and compare that grand total to your projected income and see if it works out to be close enough to cover your expenses. Check to see if you’re running a surplus or a deficit for the month. If you’re running a deficit, plan to cut expenses until you’re back in the black.

What you spend on transportation shows what kind of citizen you are.

Set Goals

Many times we screw up our finances on a big-ticket item because we have no plan, and make the purchase without any agreement with our significant other. Decisions with big-ticket items are treated like a whim or a matter of opinion based on emotions rather than a marriage-wide decision and plan.

So the bottom line is talk first, then spend.

Should you Have Separate Bank Accounts?

One of the most significant questions that you and your spouse-to-be should ask yourself before getting married is whether or not you should have a joint bank account.

There are at least as many ways to tackle the issue of joint or separate accounts as there are couples, and no one has a better solution than anyone else. In the end, the amount of money that you’re each bringing into your marriage, the way in which you two interact with it, and your individual levels of comfort are the biggest factors in this decision.

There are many factors to consider when you’re considering a joint bank account. Are you a saver or a spender? Do you have any money saved already? Do you have debts? If you decide to open a joint account, will it stand the test of time or will it be a temporary convenience? Are you willing to have a say in your partner’s spending habits? Are you comfortable giving up your individuality in this area? Are you going to be equal partners financially or will one partner control the checkbook? Will you be able to explain away any questionable expenses made by your partner?

Money in Marriage

No matter how strong your love and commitment to your marriage is, come to the end of your life, you will leave leaving your money to your kids and your kids’ kids. And if you and your spouse spend thousands of dollars to fight your divorce and you put off your retirement savings to buy fancy cars and the latest HD TVs, you will have wasted your money on a distraction.

Having said that, happy couples don’t avoid talking about money. Of all the tools for preventing a divorce, talking openly about money is perhaps the most important.

This doesn’t mean you have to have every penny accounted for. But you and your significant other should understand where you stand before you do or say anything. The avoidance of these conversations is the main reason for money problems in many marriages.