Getting married is more than just a decision about who you are going to love and be faithful to for the rest of your life—it’s also a financial merger. Marriage means combining all of your earnings (and all of your debts) and figuring out how to best plan for vacations, children, retirement, and anything else that comes along the way.
Whether you’ve been on your own for awhile and already have your finances figured out as a single person, or you’re just starting out in your career, you’re going to need to understand how to communicate with your partner about money and how to make important financial decisions as a couple. When you’re about to get married, it’s important to have these conversations about money early and often, so that you can handle budgets and investments as a team. But how should you go about making major financial decisions as a couple? How do you decide what your financial goals should be as a couple? Here’s how to navigate those murky waters of personal finance with your partner.
Be Communicative with Each Other
However you decide to divvy up bills, rent, and determine you plan your financial future, the most important thing when it comes to money in a relationship is to be extremely communicative. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to let your spouse know when you’re buying an impulse pack of gum at the grocery store, but it does mean that it’s probably a good idea to let them know when you are about to purchase a big-ticket item (like a new television or an expensive watch that you’ve been eyeing). Decide on what dollar amount might be worthy of a discussion, before a purchase is made.
There’s no right way to handle finances as a couple, but when you’re about to make a big financial decision like buying a car or a house, you definitely want to make sure that both partners are comfortable with the purchase, and that they feel like their opinion is being equally considered. The best way to make sure that happens is if you are both communicative about finances with each other.
Before Making a Financial Decision, First Ask Yourselves if You’re Ready to Decide
When you’re on the precipice of making a really big financial decision, such as buying a house, then it’s really important that before you get started on the whole process you ask yourselves if you’re actually ready for it. If you’re a newlywed and didn’t live with your spouse before you got married, you may be unfamiliar with the inner workings of their bank account (although of course it’s always a good idea to have general knowledge on this subject before you get married).
If you’re in the beginning stages of talking about buying a house, assess where you are together. Does your partner have a lot of debt that it would make it impossible to achieve this goal right now? Do the two of you have enough savings for a down payment or is that still another year away? The main idea is to frankly talk about these and more questions so that you can figure out whether or not it’s the right time to make such a big purchase together.
Figure Out a Strategy for Achieving Your Major Financial Goal
If you’re not quite ready to make a major purchase together, figure out how you’re going to get there together. For example, if you want to purchase a car by the end of the year, determine how much money you both need to set back each week or month to have a down payment to purchase.
In addition to working together on saving toward a financial goal, research how to go about actually making the purchase. Researching about a complicated financial purchase can not only help you both reach a better understanding, but it’ll also give you more insight on your spouse’s financial literacy and what you can learn from them (or what they can learn from you!).
Don’t Bully Your Partner Into a Financial Decision
Whatever purchase you’re making, it’s crucial to not bully your partner into a financial decision that they’re not comfortable with. Although you might feel like buying a boat for the summer months out on the lake would be a good investment, your partner might secretly think that it’ll sit in the driveway for months on end without much use. You should never bully your partner into any investments, or other major financial decisions, because that can quickly grow into distrust or resentment.
It’s certainly not fun for your ideas to get shut down, and it might be difficult to reconcile with the fact that your financial decisions are no longer just yours to make anymore, but the fact is that you’re a financial team now. You want to always make sure that both parties are always satisfied and comfortable with every decision that is being made as a couple.