Marriage it’s all wedding bells and fireworks until someone decides to start talking about money. Despite major advances in both banking and couples therapy over the years, money continues to be the biggest problem plaguing otherwise happy newlyweds. After all, its hard to make that financial shift from mine to ours, and its even more difficult when ours is about 75% mine.
Butt compromise is the heart and soul of any successful marriage, and if you want to make it through the first year without clawing each others eyes out, youre going to need to get your financial baggage sorted out. Sharing isnt easy, especially when youre working with two drastically different incomes, but trust us that it is possible. So before you newlyweds start fighting over who deserves what expense, try using these budgeting strategies to keep your marital frustrations in check.
1) Work his and hers funds into your budget. Advice columnists will tell you that its a good idea for newlyweds to work out their monthly budget together, but what they dont mention is that you should leave some room for a certain amount of discretionary spending. Set up equivalent his and hers funds for the month. That way, each spouse can buy whatever they want, no questions asked. If your husband wants to use his to pay for his World of Warcraft subscription, then more power to him. The same goes for your wifes weekend massages. This will help maintain some sort of sanity throughout the early years.
2) Take turns with your financial goals. While his and hers funds might work well for little purchases, youll have to compromise on major expenses like going back to school, going on vacation and buying a car. A good way to do this without going broke is to take turns with those dream purchases. For instance, your husband should be allowed to ditch his rusty 1995 Civic and buy a new car with the understanding that your next major purchase will be that week-long stay in Malta that youve always dreamed of. Plan your big expenses ahead of time so that you can work towards them together.
3) Swap credit reports before you say I do. Bickering over a $2,500 television your husband just bought probably isnt going to ruin your marriage, but finding out that hes been hiding $10,000 in credit card debt might. Before committing to the marriage, you should both take a good look at each others finances to make sure you know exactly what youre getting into. That way, you wont be forced to deal with any unwelcome surprises further down the line.
4) Avoid the parent-child trap. If you earn more money than your spouse does, it doesn’t make your opinion any more valid. When one spouse controls all the financial decisions, the other spouse tends to rebel against them. This creates a parent-child dynamic that leads to a whole slew of other problems. To avoid this, make sure that all of your financial decisions are made together. It doesnt matter if one spouse earns a tenth of what the other one does. It’s a good idea to maintain the illusion of equality regardless.
As newlyweds, youre going to find a lot of reasons to fight. Someone will leave wet clothes on the hardwood floor, refuse to do the dishes or work too late every night. But money is never worth fighting over. No matter what the gap is between your two incomes, you should approach each financial decision as equals. It might be difficult, but youll be a lot happier in the long run.