Managing Money in Marriage

Managing MoneyMark: Money. You gotta have it. You’ve gotta manage it. You’ve gotta talk about it. You’ve gotta learn how to make decisions about it together.

Jill: We’ve certainly had plenty of financial frustration in our marriage and we know we’re not alone in that!

Mark: Jill and I came from very different upbringings and, of course, our families of origin handled money very differently. For instance, my family ate out a lot while Jill’s family only ate out for very special occasions.

Jill: Mark and I never talked about money much before we got married. After we married, we found ourselves with differing ideas about debt, spending, and saving.

Mark: One of the best things we did was to sign up for Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace course at our church. While we didn’t necessarily agree with everything in the course, what it did for us was get us talking about money, thinking differently about money, and making decisions together about money.

Jill: We became students together! This required conversation and helped us to set goals we worked towards TOGETHER.

Mark: TOGETHER is the key word here. We learned together. We discussed together. We decided together how to apply what we were learning to our finances.  This helped us get our beliefs and values of money management on the same page.

Jill: Last week we talked about the importance of talking about sex. This week we’re looking at the importance of talking about money.  The key is the TALKING part.

Mark: Few parents teach their children about their beliefs and values of money management. So we bring our often “uneducated” perspectives into marriage. That’s why it’s important for us to go to school together on money management!

Jill: Is money a challenge in your marriage?  It doesn’t really matter who manages the money. What matters is that you work together to decide HOW to manage the money.  Here are some strategies we’ve found helpful or know other couples use:

  • Determine a threshold of spending where you need to consult one another. For instance, you might create a threshold like, “Other than groceries or paying bills, we won’t spend more than $100 on anything without talking to one another.”
  • Have a “financial committee meeting” once or twice a month to make sure you both understand the reality of finances and determine the plan together.
  • Decide on the best way to handle “spending money.” Most of us like knowing we each have some discretionary funds to use for little opportunities that come our way.
  • Even if only one of you are managing the money, make sure both of you are engaged in the money decision-making process.
  • Keep learning about money management. You can search for a Financial Peace class in your area here.

What about you? What steps have you and your spouse taken to get on the same page with money?

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