Manage your finances together

By glblguy

Couple together at sunset
Photo by: Björn Söderqvist

Mrs. Micah started a collective post that asked readers to share their best personal finance practices of the year. Here’s mine and it applies to those of you that are married:

Do your finances together!

Money problems and disagreements are the number one cause of marital strife and divorce in the US. The key to avoiding these problems is communication. I’ve discussed this topic before in these articles: How to get my wife or husband to follow a budget, In Financial Chaos? Pass the test, and 1 year ago today – 10 things we’ve done to regain financial control.

Together

I highly recommend you face your money problems together, develop your financial plan together, do your budget together, save together, invest together…well you get the point. Frequently in a marriage, one person does the finances. This is generally the more detail oriented person, the geek as I call them (I can say that, I’m the geek). The other person isn’t involved, or least not enough. Money fights are generally for one of two reasons:

  • The person not responsible for the money begins to feel controlled because they either don’t understand the finances or don’t have a say in how the money is budgeted.
  • The person responsible for the finances gets frustrated because their spouse spends too much money, thinking in their mind that the overspending is intentional when in fact it’s really a result of the couple not communicating.

Working together on your finances solves this problem. When you both understand how much income you have, how that income gets allocated into your budget, and you agree on your short term and long term financial goals there really isn’t anything to disagree on. When you both partake in the process you both become accountable. When you develop and agree on your monthly budget together, the budget (that you both agreed to) becomes the controller of your finances.

Have a budget meeting

One of the key techniques we use to ensure we do our finances together is to have a weekly budget meeting. My wife and I meet each Monday night after the kids go to bed and we review our budget. Since I’m the geek, I update the budget and print out all of our expenditures. I update how much is remaining in each budget category and print her off a copy. We review the categories and adjust our budget if necessary. There is no, “You spent too much here” types of phrases. If we overspent in a particular category we pull out from another. Remember, unless you had a unplanned windfall of cash, the income is generally fixed and all you can do is adjust your expenses.

What if you can’t pull from another category? Then you pull from your emergency fund.

Yes it really is this easy

I know, I sound like one of those late night infomercials or knife commercials, but it really is that simple. The extent of our money disagreements now is just discussing how much to put in each budget category. The solution is to just split the difference.

I’m not really sure why this simple and easy to follow process occurred to me so late in our marriage, but I am just thankful that it did. Genesis 2:24 tells us: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” For this reason alone we should do our finances together, as one flesh.

Funny how it’s so easy to miss the obvious. If this is something you would like to start doing in your marriage, but your spouse is reluctant, read my article How to get my wife or husband to follow a budget for some ideas. You can even leave a comment or contact me and I’ll see if I can help.

Do you manage your finances together? Do you disagree about your money? Let me know what your thoughts by leaving a comment below!


18 Responses (including trackbacks) to “Manage your finances together”

  1. Mrs. Micah Says:

    Thanks for responding! :)

    This is an excellent point. Micah is less involved in the money management, but I try to communicate with him about budgets, savings account, every new thing I plan to do…I run it by him first, since it’s his money too. And we’re partners. :)

  2. Lynnae @ beingfrugal.net Says:

    Excellent post! I can’t imagine trying to do the finances without my husband. Like Mrs. Micah, my husband is less involved in the day to day managing, but we agree on the general budget and when problems come up, we always figure them out together.

  3. WJ Says:

    Great advice!! You would not see two individuals in a business partnership letting one handle all the finances. I would like to suggest David Bach’s Smart Couples Finish Rich. It is loaded with great exercises to complete together and individually to learn each persons monetary goals and concerns. I also agree that this is one of the most important subjects a couple can work on together.

  4. glblguy Says:

    Mrs. Micah, communicating and being partners is the key. You’re off to a great start.

  5. glblguy Says:

    Thanks Lynnae! That’s great. We’re similar, I do all the details and then I review it with her and get her input.

  6. glblguy Says:

    Hi WJ, I agree that is a really good book. I read it last year. Good point about a business as well. Thanks!

  7. Tasha Says:

    i totally agree! i always run by my partner everything that has got to do with our money/finances. he lets me have full control of the budget, and even his salary! he’s fine with getting a fixed allowance. i don’t know why he trusts me so much with his money but i love it! :) he’s not too keen about “too many cooks” in our finance management.

  8. glblguy Says:

    Tasha, that’s awesome. You have a rare relationship. Guessing he trusts you because you do a good job. Sounds like he is relatively frugal as well.

  9. Jeremy Says:

    I’ve been on the verge of starting this for a few months now… I know budgeting together with my wife will help us both to spend ‘intentionally’ (which hopefully translates to less). However, I’ve been dragging my heels a bit…

    We make a comfortable living (my salary alone), and generally try to be frugal. But we don’t really budget. I think it mostly comes down to this: by not imposing constraints on my wife, I feel more justified in the various extras I spend on. I know we’re supposed to budget ‘blow’ money. I think we just need to try it to see how it works.

  10. glblguy Says:

    Hi Jeremy. You should just try it and see how it works and see how you like it. It’s not really you constraining your wife, but you constraining each other a little. If you’re frugal already than it really won’t be a big leap for you. I like it best just because it tracks our money so we know where it’s going.

    If you decide to try it, make sure you come back and update us on your thoughts.

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