Getting married is typically a very exciting moment, as is the process leading up to it.
There’s the dress, the food, the band, and of course, your something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. What happens when the wedding bells stop ringing? When the bills start coming in, and the two of you disagree about how to handle your finances?
I don’t mean to be a downer because there really is something magical about the months before and after a wedding. However, it’s important to be realistic. Many couples argue about money, and these arguments often stem from small, day-to-day financial disagreements.
Small money fights can affect your relationship over the long term, to the point where it gets to be too much. After all, many couples argue about money, and many of these arguments stem from small, day-to-day financial disagreements.
I’ve talked to many married couples over the past few years in my research. I also know from my own firsthand experience that even some of the toughest money fights can be resolved.
So, with that said, below is a list of what I wish I would have known about money before I got married. Hopefully they can help your relationship thrive and last for decades to come.
There’s No Need to Micromanage Money
Early in my marriage, when my husband and I first combined our finances, I used to micromanage everything about our money. If my husband spent $5 on a Starbucks drink, you bet he heard about it. Once, he forgot to pay a bill, and because of that, I’ve paid every bill over the course of our seven-year marriage.
It took me years to realize that while I thought I was helping us save money by micromanaging, I was actually hurting my relationship. Questioning every purchase he made suffocated him and made him scared to buy anything.
As I’m sure you can imagine, our early years of marriage and having our first joint bank account definitely came with a learning curve. Luckily, we learned how to solve our differences over spending styles, which brings me to my next point.
An Allowance Solves Most Money Fights
It’s important to remember that although a marriage creates a union between two people, those two people are still individuals. We all have different money priorities, different things we like to splurge on, and different life experiences that affect what and how we buy things.
That’s why an allowance can help improve relationship strains over money. My husband and I each get around $100 every month to spend on whatever we like. If he wants to buy expensive hair products, he can do that without me questioning it. If I want to get a $30 manicure, I can do so without fear of getting the side eye.
Allowing each person to have their own spending money, whether it’s $20 or $200, infuses a sense of independence in a relationship and helps a couple to focus on their joint goals without worrying about their individual spending.
It’s Never Too Early to Start Saving
When you’re young and your marriage is new, it’s easy to spend more than you save. However, even if you have a small income, it’s important to start saving early.
Early in my marriage, I regret eating out so much and not tracking my spending more closely. I always tell young couples that it’s never too early to start saving toward a joint goal, whether you want to buy a house someday or retire early.
How You’re Raised Matters When It Comes to Money
It’s interesting to me how much of our childhood experiences affect every aspect of our adult lives so many years later. Money lessons are no different. My husband’s parents were extremely frugal. Many of his clothes and shoes came from thrift stores, so he relished the opportunity to make his own money and buy new clothes once he got older.
I, on the other hand, grew up with parents who enjoyed spending their solid incomes. So, to me, going to a thrift store was like a fun scavenger hunt. It was about the thrill of the chase; it wasn’t about being there because I had to buy my clothes there.
So, to this day, I love getting a good deal and scouring sales. My husband just wants to walk into a store and buys what he wants, whether it’s full price.
As evidenced by the examples above, childhood experiences like these shape how my husband and I view money and handle spending as adults. It affects the types of products we buy, how often we save, and even the way we shop.
Most of the time, spending money is psychological. There is a lot of emotion wrapped up in exchanging dollar bills. I wish I would have known this early on. It took me years to understand why our money philosophies are different and how to compromise so we could plan our future financial goals together.
It’s More Fun to Spend Money When You Have It
The average credit card debt in America is around $16,000. (This figure does not include households who pay their credit card balances in full each month.) It’s increasingly common for young couples and families to use credit cards as a crutch when their income can’t keep up with their spending habits.
I’ve learned over time, through climbing out of credit card debt myself, that it really is more fun to spend money you actually have. It feels empowering to save up for a big purchase over time. When you actually have the money in your bank account to go on a trip or buy a computer, you get to enjoy it more. You don’t have to experience that feeling in your stomach when you know you shouldn’t buy something but do it anyway.
Saving money before buying something with your spouse is even more rewarding. When you work toward your financial goals jointly, it brings you closer together over time.
I’ve learned quite a bit about managing money within a marriage in the last seven years since saying “I Do.” My husband and I made our share of money mistakes, but these days, we handle our joint money peacefully and enjoy working together toward our common financial goals. Hopefully, some of the tips above can help you to do the same in your relationship.
What do you wish you would have known about money before you got married? Let us know in the comments below!
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