Friday, December 14, 2012

Finances and Marriage (5 Tricks to Get it Right)

It's no doubt that one of the chief challenges of maintaining a successful marriage is organizing your finances.  While the "I do" portion of the marriage contract seems simple enough, merging two very different sets of finances and potential financial behavior can cause problems if not handled in an open and amicable way.  My wife and I have been married for over 3 years now, and I believe I our financial health remains strong.  Here are 5 tricks we employed to encourage a successful financial marriage.

1.) Talk about finances and spending habits before you get married.
This first step is the most simple and seemingly obvious, but you would be surprised how many people just avoid the subject.  You should know going into a marriage whether your two financial philosophies will mesh well together.  If one person is a saver and the other a spender, I guarantee that you will have problems in the future.  These so called "red flags" should at least be maid public before even embarking on your road to bliss.

2.) Maintain 1 checking account and joint credit cards.
I think some people would disagree with this statement, but let's just review what's going on here.  You have just entered a marriage in which you must merge to different sets of philosophies and lifestyles.  If you maintain separate checking accounts and credit cards, then you aren't truly in a marriage.  You should be able to trust your spouse whole-heartily which most certainly includes your finances.

3.) Appoint a "CFO" of the household.
Notice how I said CFO and not dictator.  Generally speaking, it's good to have one spouse be the chief payer of the bills, balancing the checking account, and keeping track of the budget.  It should be pretty obvious in your relationship who this person should be, but it makes it easy to get things done if someone is just in charge of this task by default.

4.) Give monthly financial reports to your spouse.
This doesn't have to be anything formal, but I literally sit my wife down in front of the computer at least once a month and show her the balances in our accounts, and how much each of us has been spending.  This could be a stressful time for some, but speak in calming terms.  You don't want to be blaming the other spouse if they are spending too much.  You need to show them what is exactly going on.  Often times, they might have not realized the grand scheme of the cash inflows and outflows.

5.) Keep the lines of communication open.
This is your primary tool to keep a happy and financially sound household.  Money should not be a taboo or stressful topic in your marriage.  Instead, make sure you regularly talk about your finances.  Usually, I'll just mention in passing to my wife at least once a week how much is in our checking account.  Sometimes she'll ask me questions on the fly and I'll explain in full detail.  There's no point in hiding this information, because you're both in this together.

The only downside I can think of to this whole arrangement is when it comes time to buy each other Christmas gifts or any sort of holiday presents.  Since my wife and I primarily use the credit card, and I can see every transaction, it makes it difficult to create a surprise.  Luckily, the Mrs. has a pretty elaborate spy network of family to still keep things a surprise.

Finances are usually the top reason for marriages to have problems.  These simple steps will go a long way to maintain a happy and healthy life together.

Wonderful Moment of the Day: Realizing that my wife does in fact have a covert network of family members able to purchase gifts for me in her name.


  1. Maybe to give you a better suprise you could take cash out and buy a present that way. I know it's not always easy what with online shopping and all. But it gets you out amongst the shops - and it helps you set a budget!

    We've said £70 each for our presents ($113), this gives us enough for a large present or several smaller ones, or a mixture!

    1. Thanks for the advice, and keeping your gifts within a certain price range is definitely a good idea.