Marriage brings together two individuals who may have strong individual views on everything from sports, clothes, food to financial goals. For a successful marriage, managing the family’s finances amicably is one critical area. Many separations and divorces take place when partners fail to come to an agreement about money management in the family. Here are some tips that will help married couples handle their joint finances in perfect harmony.
Accept Different Opinions
The first and the most basic rule is to accept that your partner need not necessarily have the same views as you about your financial goals. Your partner may want to save for future medical expenses while you may think your current emergency fund is enough. You may think vacationing is an essential expense and needs to be saved for, while your partner may think it is extravagant. This is inevitable and unavoidable. Once you accept this, financial management gets easier.
Discuss Your Views
It is important for both of you to discuss your views and arrive at a mutually acceptable conclusion about what the priorities of your family should be. Remember that these may be very different from your personal priorities.
Ideally, this discussion should take place even before marriage. But it can certainly be done after marriage too, provided both partners agree to act as responsible, mature adults who can put the family’s needs before their own.
Are Two Pay Checks Better Than One?
If both partners are employed, there are some important points to consider. Do two paychecks coming in every month really mean more money? It may not always be the case. Check if the double income puts you in a higher tax bracket so that you end up paying much more by way of tax than the second paycheck brings in. If so, seriously consider quitting that job. Remember that there are costs associated with earning that paycheck – transportation to and from work, day care for kids while you are at work, work wardrobe etc.
Make a Joint Budget for Both to Follow
Sit down with your partner to make your monthly budget. If you have different priorities, identify two of the top ones from each partner’s and include them in the budget. Make sure both of you stay committed to the budget and save towards all four priorities listed there.
Any marriage is bound to be a disaster if one partner thinks blowing the monthly paycheck in Vegas is ‘fun’ while the other industriously clips out every discount coupon in the newspapers. It is important to understand and accept each other’s financial goals and work towards them jointly.