7 worst money mistakes you can make in marriage

How to deal with financial differences in a healthy way

Photos: ING Image
Photos: ING Image
17 Aug 2015

Photos: ING Image

Money works differently in a marriage than it does in our pre-married lives. Even if your personalities and living habits are compatible, if your money styles clash, that could lead to unhappiness, financial insecurity, and other issues down the road. But there are ways to stay on top of making financial decisions as a couple. Start by avoiding these seven common money mistakes in marriage.  

1. Avoiding the topic of money.
1. Avoiding the topic of money.
17 Aug 2015

1. Avoiding the topic of money.

No one gets turned on by a chat about mortgage and loans. Some couples avoid financial discussions because they’re afraid it might feel strained or lead to arguments.

Open communication about money builds trust and shows commitment to the life you’re sharing. Establish parameters like what money should be joined and kept separate. How would you like to spend and save it? How should you fund your accounts? Mutually agreeing upon ground rules can be rewarding. Once money matters are no longer vague, you’ll actually feel more at ease. 

2. Not having or keeping to a budget.
2. Not having or keeping to a budget.
17 Aug 2015

2. Not having or keeping to a budget.

This goes along with setting up financial rules and goals. Be clear about your budget for different types of expenses (household needs, eating out, transportation, etc.), and help each other stick to it every month. Whether you use spreadsheets or apps, be sure to list your daily expenditures and go over them together regularly. The best feeling is when you come under your budget. Money savvy couples FTW. 

3. Keeping money secrets from your spouse.
3. Keeping money secrets from your spouse.
17 Aug 2015

3. Keeping money secrets from your spouse.

Debts, secret accounts, budget-busting impulse buys – it’s time to come clean about them, because financial infidelity can really put a damper on your marriage. Keeping money secrets from your spouse might be a sign of deeper issues. Perhaps you have an addiction or you simply hate confrontation, but continuously lying to your partner about money will damage your future.

Most of us know what it’s like to buy something we can’t afford, then instantly feel guilty about it. You and your spouse can help each other by deciding on a price together, then agreeing not to spend more than this on any purchase without consulting one another first.

 

4. Leaving all the financial matters to one spouse.
4. Leaving all the financial matters to one spouse.
17 Aug 2015

4. Leaving all the financial matters to one spouse.

Maybe numbers aren’t your thing, but if you defer all financial matters to your spouse while you’re at a loss about everything from bills and taxes to investments and retirement savings, you’re at a great disadvantage.

It’s not enough just to know the day-to-day budget either. You should have a handle on how to manage the accounts and take care of the bills in case your spouse isn’t around. Familiarize yourself with the household income, insurance policies and savings, as well as any stock options, long-term investments and debts. Ask your spouse (and financial planner or accountant if you have one) to run you through everything so that you’ll feel more confident with financial decision-making. 

5. Not establishing credit in your own name.
5. Not establishing credit in your own name.
17 Aug 2015

5. Not establishing credit in your own name.

Are your credit cards based on your own accounts, or your spouse’s? Even if a credit card has your name printed on it, if it’s based on your spouse’s account and you’re simply an authorized user, then you’re unable to establish your own credit history with the card.

It’s risky not to have any credit history, especially as you need it to qualify for loans. Boost your creditworthiness by applying for credit cards in your own name and paying them off on time.  

6. Failing to look at the big picture.
6. Failing to look at the big picture.
17 Aug 2015

6. Failing to look at the big picture.

How will you save for your kids’ college tuition and your own retirement? Do you dream of investing in vacation properties and globetrotting in your golden years? But what happens if you or your spouse falls ill later down the road? One of the biggest money mistakes in marriage is neglecting to plan financially for the long term.

Get life insurance to cover your financial needs in case of emergencies. If you want to ride out your retirement comfortably, you need to develop a long-term plan, review it periodically, and work as a team. 

7. Using money matters as a weapon against your spouse.
7. Using money matters as a weapon against your spouse.
17 Aug 2015

7. Using money matters as a weapon against your spouse.

“Well if you’re blowing our savings on a motorcycle, I’m getting our kitchen remodeled.” Even if you’re upset about your spouse’s overindulgence, don’t retaliate by making one of your own. One dumb financial move doesn’t fix the other. 

“Sure, go ahead and spend my hard-earned money on a new designer bag you don’t need.” Never use your earning power to shame or control your partner. Rather than being constructive, such condescending behavior could breed resentment. Be rational and respectful as you work out your different spending habits and discuss the ground rules. 

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