Best Practices

How to Manage Finances in Marriage

by Jim Hughes   February 28, 2020

It's been said that the weakest part of a man's anatomy is his pocketbook. Indeed, money is the biggest threat to anyone's marriage. See our tips on how to manage finances in marriage and learn how to avoid conflict related to money.

Couple fighting about money.

Money and marriage go together about as well as vinegar and baking soda.

According to a survey from Ramsey Solutions, the number one issue that couples fight about is money. Their arguments seep from debt and a lack of communication. Money issues are the second biggest cause of divorce, behind only infidelity.

That said, you shouldn’t stop talking to your partner about money. In fact, those in happier marriages are more likely to discuss money regularly than couples in crisis. And, research shows that couples who stick together build more wealth over time than those who remain single.

To avoid conflict and keep your marriage from exploding like a grade school science fair project, here’s how to manage finances in marriage.

Managing Finances as a Married Couple

Before you sit down with your spouse to talk about your finances, here are some important points to consider:

-        You’re not alone – money troubles are very common. Nearly 90% of those married in the last five years started off in debt.

-        It’s normal to feel anxious about having this discussion. Debt leads to stress and anxiety, especially when couples think about talking to each other about money problems.

-        It’s always a bad idea to hide a purchase from your partner. Many fights start this way.

-        Set goals together. According to that Ramsey study, nearly all happy couples set long-term targets for their finances.

Since discussing finances in marriage is a dangerous endeavor, it isn’t surprising that experts have weighed in. Trent Hamm, from The Simple Dollar, recommends tips for talking about money with your spouse:

  • Firstly, focus on the goals. Impulsive spending is a recipe for bankruptcy. One way to avoid that is by making sure you and your spouse’s goals are aligned, and that you are both working toward a common financial future.
  • Take out your dirty laundry. Chances are you have made a few mistakes, too. Be sure to note these missteps, so your partner doesn’t feel like this discussion is one-sided.
  •  Avoid judging each other. You might think your partner is wasting money. However, nothing will change unless they come to this conclusion on their own.
  • Be kind. Yelling or talking down to your spouse will not lead to real change.
  • Schedule a regular meeting, and don’t miss it. Goals are meaningless without follow-up and follow-through. It will be hard to meet about money regularly, but it is essential.
  • Reward yourselves. Do something fun after every meeting. Just try not to spend any money on it.

Those who cannot make it through the stress and anxiety of finances in marriage sometimes divorce. Historically, the resulting financial situation is harder for a woman. Emergency cash for single mothers can be difficult to find.

Taking Time to Talk About Goals

Setting financial goals with your spouse.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said that “developing comprehensive family-based money and credit strategies is critical … for [the] long-term financial health of the children.”

One of the main ways to build financial health is by building credit. A credit counselor can help you and your spouse figure out goals that are right for your situation. The HHS recommends the following steps for credit counseling:

  • Find a trustable credit counseling agency. Look for an agency that is part of The Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCA) or the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). You can also reach out to your state Attorney General’s office.
  • Schedule a meeting. You will want to meet with a certified credit counselor. The meeting should be free, and you should not have to share any of your personal financial information ahead of time if you do not want to.
  • Plot out realistic goals. You will be able to work with your credit counselor, planning out realistic benchmarks toward a brighter financial future.

It is essential that you enter this counseling side-by-side with your spouse. It should be a joint effort.

You Can Blame Society

It’s not your spouse’s fault. We live in a world where the consumer is king if they can foot the bill. Everything from social media to what you search for on the Internet is tied to someone, somewhere trying to make a buck.

Borrowing Money as a Couple

Requesting money is a different process when you are married. For one thing, both of your credit histories can play into if you are accepted for the loan. Payday loans with a savings account may be based on you and your spouse’s joint account, if applicable.

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Those seeking online payday loans with no bank account may have their spouse’s credit under even greater scrutiny.

These financial situations can be complicated and emotionally intense. It is important to go in with both eyes open.

How to Combine Finances After Marriage

The percentage of married couples with separate bank accounts varies wildly by age group. Only about 10% of Gen Xer and baby boomer couples keep separate accounts. However, nearly 30% of millennials choose not to combine finances after marriage.

Some couples think divorce and money are easier with separate accounts, but that rarely ends up being the case. Lawyers find ways to go after any and all money during a divorce.

In many cases, it’s easier to manage your money by sharing finances. If you decide to go that route, here are some tips on how to combine finances with your spouse:

  • Choose a bank and start a joint account. This might be a good time to migrate to a new bank or credit union. If you will need a mortgage in the future, it is a good idea to choose a bank that favors its own members for this type of financing.
  • Go slowly. See how things go with a joint bank account, and then decide what other parts of your finances you want to merge.
  • Make sure your spending habits match, too. You and your spouse will be more accountable to each other when you share an account. This transparency can help keep spending in check, but it can also be a source of friction if one of you is spending a lot more than the other.
  • Figure out who is in charge of paying for what. Be careful not to miss a bill because you were expecting your partner to pay it. You need to decide early on who pays each recurring bill.
  • Know the drawbacks. If your partner has bad credit, it will be impossible to fully hide from it in marriage. That said, a merged bank account will likely cause your credit score to go down a bit.
  • After combining accounts, when seeking out payday loans online for an emergency, be sure to apply using the spouse’s name who has the best credit history.

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterward.” Make sure you know the spending habits of who you’re marrying. Then, after you tie the knot, try to be patient whenever possible.

Jim Hughes   OpenCashAdvance Marketing Manager
Personal Finance
Jim Hughes remembers checking his first email on the original BlackBerry 850 nearly 20 years ago. It was spam, and he fell for it. Even so, he’s been on the beat every day since, following the ebbs and flows of financial technology. Look to Jim for insider exclusives on shorter-duration loans, installment loans, and other popular products in fintech today.
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