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Financial Advice for Married Couples: How to Get in Sync with Your Spouse

January 22, 2020

Oh, the dichotomy of money discussions. They’re so important to have, yet they are often uncomfortable and, therefore, avoided at all costs. Couple that with the fact that money disagreements are a leading cause of divorce,[i] and it’s no surprise most married couples aren’t properly communicating about financial habits and money values.



When a couple marries, they each bring into the union their individual money values, as unique as their fingerprints. These values have been created over a lifetime, often through observing parents, and most people are deeply entrenched in them. The trouble is, most couples don’t discuss these values – maybe because they grew up believing it’s gauche to talk openly about money, or because they don’t feel knowledgeable about money matters.

The money discussion is an important one to have, though. To make the topics easier to broach, it can help to think of your spouse as a business partner. Viewing your household as an operating business may help set emotion and discomfort to the side and allow you to engage in important conversations.

If you’re ready to get on the same page as your spouse financially, check out these nine ways couples can get in sync and avoid money conflicts.

Maintain Separate Bank Accounts, Plus One Joint Account

One common suggestion for married couples – especially those with divergent money values, like one saver and one spender – is to maintain individual bank accounts along with a joint account for shared expenses. This leaves each spouse some financial freedom, while both commit to following any guidelines agreed upon for the joint account. All shared bills, such as utilities, mortgage or rent, car payments, food, and insurance should come out of the shared account. How much each spouse contributes (especially if there is a difference in earnings) should be discussed, as a 50/50 split may not be feasible. What’s most important is that the shared account can be used to track all household expenses through a system that both spouses agree on.

 Create a Realistic Household Budget

If you’re taking the step of setting up a joint bank account for household expenses, you’ll need to take account of all your bills. Understanding how much it costs to live your lifestyle as a couple is paramount to knowing how much you need to spend each month, as well as how much you want to save down the line. Tracking your spending and understanding how much is coming in and going out is a great way to get a handle on monthly spending. If finances are tight, careful budgeting also offers an opportunity to discuss all the extras (coffee, lunches out, pricey gym memberships, fitness coach, etc.) and decide together how to move forward with shared financial goals in mind.

Set Financial Goals as a Team

If you haven’t established any financial goals yet, it’s time to get started. Once you have your monthly budget determined, the next step is to discuss your long-term goals together. What do you want to do in retirement? Where do you want to live? What about the kid’s college costs? This is the time to layout your hopes, dreams and fears for the future. A lot of couples find they have different goals, so the earlier you can start talking about this, the more time you have to devise a joint plan for your financial future.

Check-in Regularly

Life has a way of interrupting even the best-laid plans, so it’s vital that you don’t stop discussing your financial goals after the initial discussion and planning. Schedule periodic meetings to check in with one another, keeping an eye on your budget and shared goals. Schedule these check-ins for quiet times when you aren’t likely to be disturbed. You want to ensure that you can have open, forthright discussions in order to continue moving forward together on a firm financial footing.

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Managing your wealth is a very personal subject, one we should discuss in a more personal setting.