Financial Conversations to Have With a Spouse

Financial Conversations to Have With a Spouse
Anne Johnson

Money has a way of causing angst in a marriage. You might even feel you can’t bring the subject up without a fight starting. But it doesn’t have to be that way. When you care about someone, there are no limits on conversations. The key to a healthy financial conversation is starting early in the relationship.

If you start your relationship with financial discussions, you'll find them easier once you’re married. Even if you didn’t do this pre-marriage, you can still start a conversation without having a battle. From your spouse’s history with money to consulting a financial planner, there are ways and safe discussions you and your spouse can have.

Discuss History With Money

Money, whether having it or not having it, often elicits an emotional response. People’s relationship with money goes back to when they were children. It’s not just in the present. For example, someone who didn’t have their financial needs met as a child may have a lot of fear over spending money. This can be the same reaction for someone who once had money but lost it. They’re probably going to constantly stress over finances.

On the other hand, if your spouse grew up with financial security, they might be more risk-tolerant. They may not stress over money.

Ask what their greatest financial fear is. If your spouse fears running out of money and you’re a spender, there will be problems.

Sharing histories and past relationships with money can help determine how to handle money today.

Have you ever made a financial mistake? Seventy seven percent of people have some regret regarding a major financial decision. Discuss this with your spouse. Be transparent; tell them about your mistake and how it affected you. Ask them if they have ever regretted a financial decision. Don’t judge each other. Just talk about the decision’s impact and how it could have been avoided.

Knowing where you both are coming from fiscally will help you plan.

Discuss Financial Goals and Success

Have you always dreamed of owning a home? This might be a goal that you want to achieve quickly. Discuss this with your spouse. If owning a home is essential, then forgoing those expensive vacations may seem reasonable for both of you. Living in a less expensive apartment while you save may also have to be discussed. Both of you should be on the same page.
Having money goals may not be totally aligned. For example, one spouse may bring a lot of debt to the marriage. Is the goal to unite and pay this debt down? Or is it the one spouse’s responsibility with the other’s support to pay down the debt?

Share Financial Information

Once you know each other’s history and goals, it’s time to share financial information. Be transparent. What are your and your spouse’s credit scores? What debt do you have? There may be assets like real estate or retirement funds that you’re bringing to the table.

The final, sometimes touchy, information is how much the two of you earn.

Secrets when it comes to finances are not uncommon in marriages. A poll by found that 32 percent of spouses admitted to “cheating” financially. Some have a secret credit card. Others have debt their spouse doesn’t know about. Spending money that your spouse isn’t ok with is also financially cheating.

You must be financially transparent before combining accounts, purchasing real estate, or even marrying. Always know each other’s net worth.

Combining All or Some Finances

Discuss how to combine finances. There are several choices. One is to merge finances 100 percent. This includes savings, income, inheritance and debt.

You could also maintain separate accounts and income streams. Most couples who do this split bills 50/50. Some split bills proportionately based on income.

One of the best ways to combine finances is to maintain separate accounts but open a joint checking to cover shared costs. Each spouse deposits money in the joint account.

Dividing financial tasks can be beneficial. For example, one spouse is the spender, and one is the saver. The spender pays all the bills, while the saver puts all their net income aside for long-term goals.

How to Share Financial Responsibilities

Sharing financial responsibilities corresponds with combining finances and creating a budget. But it goes beyond just deciding what car to buy and if you should spend money on a vacation.

Thinking about the future is imperative. For example, if you have life insurance policies or 401(k) plans, designating a beneficiary other than each other is critical. And what if one proceeds the other in death? Who will then be the beneficiary?

Estate plans should be discussed.

Whether to buy life insurance or the often-forgotten disability insurance should also be addressed. These are all financial responsibilities that affect each other’s future livelihood. It comes down to protecting each other fiscally.

Schedule Money Conversations

These are serious subjects and deserve both of your undivided attention. You don’t want to talk about ways to save for a house while dressing for work.

Set a time for a financial meeting weekly, monthly or however often you need. Stick with the schedule. You’re in this together. Take the time to plan so you’re on the same page.

As part of your meetings, take the time to meet with a financial advisor. They can give you an objective view of your financial health.

Talk to Children About Money

And finally, on a limited basis, talk about finances with your children. They’re part of the family. The earlier you teach them good financial practices, the more prepared you’ll make them for life.

Talking Finances Should Be a Priority

The earlier you and your significant other discuss finances, the more sound your marriage will be. It starts before you wed. Be transparent with each other; no secrets.

Know each other’s financial history. This will help you plan where you’re going. Plan financial meetings with each other. And don’t forget the children; they factor in as well.

The Epoch Times copyright © 2024. The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors. They are meant for general informational purposes only and should not be construed or interpreted as a recommendation or solicitation. The Epoch Times does not provide investment, tax, legal, financial planning, estate planning, or any other personal finance advice. The Epoch Times holds no liability for the accuracy or timeliness of the information provided.
Anne Johnson was a commercial property & casualty insurance agent for nine years. She was also licensed in health and life insurance. Anne went on to own an advertising agency where she worked with businesses. She has been writing about personal finance for ten years.
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