You love your partner, but you hate the way they spend money and rack up debt. Money fights are the leading cause of relationship stress according to this study of national data.
So how can we make ensure our relationship thrives during trying money times?
Watch Your Credit
A little reality check here: Once you’re married, your spouse’s debts can become your problem. Your spouse’s shaky credit score can also hurt your chances of getting joint credit at good interest rates — like if you want to buy a house or get a new car.
To get a better handle on what your credit looks like, check your scores on the credit union’s Mobile Banking app for free. You’ll get a free monthly credit report to show you exactly where your credit shines… and where it could use some improvement.
Automate Your Savings
Have a set amount each pay period automatically transfer into a savings or investment account that doesn’t have a debit card attached to it. That helps keep the money out of sight and prevents easy access so it can continue to grow untouched.
Cut Your Expenses Where You Can
You’re going to have to cut your family expenses wherever you realistically can. Keep track of your transactions by using Trends, the credit union’s free personal finance manager. Connect your checking and savings accounts and credit cards for a big-picture look at your spending habits. Set alerts that’ll let you know when bills are due or when you’ve hit a spending cap.
Discuss Big-Ticket Purchases
Have a rule of thumb where you talk to each other before making expensive purchases that may compromise your joint savings. Perhaps it’s anything over $200 or $300. It not only shows respect for your savings and your goals, it builds trust – that you wouldn’t go behind the other’s back to buy something the other person may consider frivolous.
Understanding each other’s money story will increase the likelihood you’ll work together financially. This might be a good place to work with a financial advisor to ask questions, talk about your options and get solutions for your money management issues.
Give Each Other an Allowance
However you decide to do this (a separate personal account from your joint one, envelope cash system), the point of it is that your partner will be able to spend a mutually designated amount of money on personal expenses instead of digging into – and draining – your account that pays the bills. Make it understood that you both get a set amount to spend freely each month (or save for bigger purchases). That’s their money for splurges and it helps discourage any overspending from your joint account.
Set Monthly Money Dates
More than anything, it’s important for you two to really communicate. Perhaps schedule a monthly sit-down just to talk about money and go over your budget. That way, each of you understands where your spouse is coming from, where you want to go together and create goals of how you plan to reach it TOGETHER. Make sure it’s a no judgement zone where you can air concerns, but not berate each other.
Find Ways to Spend Money That Make You Both Happy
They say money can’t buy happiness. And sure, that’s true. Even we can concede that. But shouldn’t you get the most happiness you can from your money?
That’s where Joy can help. It’s a free iPhone app that’ll help you save and spend money in a way that doesn’t compromise your happiness.
Bonus: Set Your Kids up for Financial Success
Instead of giving your kids toys or gift cards on birthdays and holidays, use the opportunity to help them save toward big goals. Open a Kids Savings Account and encourage ongoing savings by bringing them into the credit union to make deposits. Go over their monthly statements together to show them how their money is growing. By starting early, you can help make them the responsible money manager you wish your spouse was, ha!
When it comes to money matters, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The most important thing is to communicate with your significant other and figure out a system that works best for the both of you. In the end, doing what’s best to help build a life together based on shared values is key.
How do you manage money and your relationship together? Tell us in the comments.