For Couples Struggling With Money, There Are Ways To Fix What Is Broken
One of the number one questions I get emails about on this site has to do with couple money management.
How do you handle finances in a relationship?
It’s as simple as talking to each other.
When you are in a relationship you don’t often see the financial side of how a person spends and saves money until you get married.
If you live together before you get married then you should have some idea whether a potential partner is a good saver but that’s not always the case.
Even couple’s who decide to reside at different places before marriage may never know each other’s financial situation because it’s not widely talked about.
Should it be?
Of course, it should, especially if you plan to spend the rest of your lives together.
Many of you reading this might say that money doesn’t matter when you are in love but at some point, it WILL affect your marriage.
Once the bills start piling up and you realize you don’t have the savings you thought you would you’ll agree you should have explored the topic further.
My Husband Spends Too Much Money
I’m tearing my hair out and I’m not sure what to do about my husband and the way he manages money.
We don’t have a budget because he has no interest in one and spends money like water.
I wish I would have seen this before we got married as it’s putting a big wedge in our marriage.
I’m not happy and not interested in being intimate with him anymore because I’m depressed about our money situation.
When he gets his paycheque deposited every two weeks he gives me half of it as he seems to think that’s enough.
It’s not enough as we are short about $500 each month to pay our debt and bills.
I try to tell him that we don’t have the money to pay for all of our bills but he says to put it on the credit card.
Even if I tell him that it will cost us more down the road he seems to think we will get caught up.
I’m afraid to see what will happen come next year when I go on maternity leave and only get a portion of my paycheque.
I feel he just wants to put a band-aid on our money and hope I can figure it all out.
Do you have any tips for couple money management advice you can help us with?
Couple Money Management Takes Two
There are always ways to learn how to manage money better but when it comes to couples things can get tricky.
Why? When you are dealing with one person it’s far easier to motivate yourself rather than two people.
Especially if one participant is not interested in budgeting and money management.
The problem is couple money management means both of you need to be on the same page for it to work.
But how do you make that happen?
Sometimes it boils down to ultimatum because if nothing changes in terms of couple money management then sometimes leaving is the best option.
Personally, I’d opt for couples therapy first to see if a professional can get through to your spouse before walking away.
Even then, some partners have no interest in talking to a stranger about the way they are not participating in the relationship.
They are embarrassed perhaps or simply just don’t care. In that case, you know the answer.
Couples should always work together to build a happy home which includes couple money management.
Say that again, Couple Money Management, NOT just Money Management.
Relationship=Two people. (well maybe more in some cases)
You have to look out for yourself and your kids if you have any in a relationship where things are going as expected.
Losing everything you have because your partner is rubbish with money and unwilling to change is selfish and unfair to the family.
Couple Money Management Tips
Before I proposed to Mrs CBB I made sure we discussed money in detail so I knew what I was getting into.
Oddly enough she would tell you the same thing because as it turns out we were both finance nerds.
Saving money came easy to us because we both came from families that didn’t have much but different backgrounds.
Couple money management was just as important to her as it was to me.
Even today the way we handle money as a couple is pretty tight-knit as we discuss everything from big purchases to a stop at Tim Horton’s for coffee.
That may seem over the top to some people but some couple’s don’t even talk about how their day went.
Below are 8 couple money management tips that we used and still use today to ensure our marriage stays financially and emotionally happy.
1. Talk About Money
If you have a spouse who spends too much money and doesn’t want anything to do with managing finances, smack them upside the head.
Just kidding. Seriously, you both need to sit and talk about money and where you’d like to see yourselves in the future financially.
This is a great time to perhaps talk about giving each other a monthly adult allowance as the first move.
For example, Both Mrs CBB and I give ourselves $50 each a month to spend on whatever we like. Splurge money some might call it.
If there is a spouse that opposes budgeting who sees there is something in it for them such as an allowance, they may engage better.
However, you won’t know how much money you can offer an allowance until you create a budget.
2. Discuss Financial Goals
Both Mrs CBB and I discussed our financial goals many times over the course of our 11-year relationship as things change.
We went from being a couple to becoming a family and anyone with children knows that your budget will increase kids.
Any time we do discuss money goals we write them down on paper as we find that motivates us more than typing on a computer screen.
Sometimes we’ve even posted our goals on the refrigerator just to remind us how important our budget is.
I’m telling you it’s not easy to get ahead but you have to want it bad enough to do it without sacrificing your happiness.
That means you have to balance saving with enjoying life and spending time and money on yourselves.
The key is that you have to save before you spend so any time you want to splurge you MUST have the money to do so.
3. Create A Budget
I’m not a therapist or marriage counsellor but I am married and feel we are successful with couple money management.
Creating a money management sheet is as simple as creating a basic budget which offers you information on two things:
- How much money you earn
- Where the money is being spent or saved
Often times I think people get scared of the word, “budget” so we’ve come up with ways to frost the term to ease stress.
You may have heard of a money management sheet or spending plan but they are really just budgets but in basic forms.
They are for people who don’t want to spend as much time as you would with a full excel budget spreadsheet to keep track of expenses as we use.
To be honest, I’m fine with that because I’d rather see a couple use any form of money management rather than nothing at all.
Ultimately, the best way to track money is by using a budget and there’s no getting around that.
I’ve tried and failed miserably when I was younger but soon realized I needed to put more effort into managing my money if I wanted to succeed.
4. Debt Management
One thing I come across often is that people have little idea about how to calculate their debt to income ratio.
This is a basic understanding of how much debt you have in accordance with how much income you earn.
If you don’t know how much debt you have to pay back it’s critical that you create a debt management sheet and write it all down.
The best way to organize all of your budgeting tools is in a budget binder so that you can print documents from our free downloads and fill them in manually.
Once you know how much money you owe it will allow you to plan your monthly budget around paying back your debt fast.
5. Retirement and Future
Where do you see yourselves in the future?
Do you have a WILL? Yes, you will need one.
Retirement can be as simple as you’d like it to be and I think some people would prefer it that way.
What I’ve learned that retirement isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be especially if someone becomes ill.
Mental illness and other diseases can take over at any age and can cost a fortune as not everything is covered under OHIP.
Discussing with your spouse what could happen in the future including the bad stuff is so important.
Understanding what each other wants in terms of preference when going into a retirement home or memory care facility is smart communication.
As well, if you are both healthy and wanting to travel how often would you like to travel and where?
When you have an idea about where you see your retirement it’s a great way to plan for retirement savings.
Just be aware that what you plan and what actually happens can be two different things.
Many people can save their entire lives to enjoy their dreams in the golden years to never recognizing them.
I think the key point to take away from this is to consider investing in a Registered Retirement Savings Plan and Tax-Free Savings Plan as soon as possible.
It’s not something you want it’s something you will need.
A financial advisor should direct and provide information to you about products that are available.
6. Budget Responsibilities
You can’t create a budget and then put the weight of responsibility on just one person when you are in a relationship.
For example, Mrs CBB takes care of adding up all of our receipts to make sure they are accurate and inputs them into our excel spreadsheet.
I create all of our budget and net worth monthly charts so we can see how much money we earned and where the money was spent.
Even if you have one partner who is not a budget-minded person where a small task like organizing receipts is easy to complete.
By the way, you should always get receipts to manage your budget and in the event, you need to return an item, even grocery store purchases.
Just saying, it will make a BIG difference to your budget success.
7. Weekly Finance Meetings
When Mrs CBB and I started budgeting we would have weekly finance meetings.
Each week we would sit in our office and go over the expenses we incurred and talk about anything regarding upcoming purchases.
For example, if I needed to buy tools or a new pair of shoes we would discuss that so we knew whether we had the money saved or not.
This is good practice for new couples or couples who have not used a budget or money management system before.
Talking about expenses before you make them is smart because saving up to pay cash is better than using credit. Avoid it if at all possible.
The meeting doesn’t have to be lengthy, perhaps 10 or 15 minutes and then get on with your day.
8. Saving For Your Children
Lastly, if you have children involved you must consider the present and the future.
Ensure that you are budgeting money for them each month to participate in activities, clothing and eating healthy balanced meals.
It’s not just about you anymore it’s about a child who looks up to you for guidance so support and love your child by doing the best you can.
If you have the money in your budget to contribute to a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) I’d encourage you to participate.
The cost of education in the future will only increase and anything you can do for your children to get ahead will be a blessing.
The only other thing I want to point out here is that couples should make time for themselves to go out for a date night.
If there are limited funds then perhaps send the kids to a babysitter or the inlaws for the evening and enjoy a dinner at home.
You don’t have to spend money to go for a stroll on the boardwalk or downtown window shopping with hot tea or coffee enjoying each other’s company.
There is quite a bit to be said about couple’s who do things together so create a plan of action and watch your relationship flourish.
Discussion: What other tips can you offer to our CBB reader in need of couple management tips for her marriage? Drop a comment below.