Effective Money Management in Marriage
I work with people in all phases of life. When couples begin their life together they often have questions about how they should manage their financial affairs— joint accounts, separate, or a combination.
Here is my go-to answer: It depends.
The truth is there is no single correct answer. Further, what works for you now, might change in the future. What is important, is that you have a plan that you both can agree on, and to keep options and communication open about the topic.
Some situations need more prior planning and communication than others. Some factors that can increase the time needed to choose a path include:
Age of when the partners marry, especially in a second or later-in-life marriage.This is especially relevant if there are assets from a previous marriage that includes children.
When one partner either enters the marriage with significantly more assets than the other or if there is a large earnings difference between the two.
When there are differences in childhood socio-economic backgrounds and if financial trauma (eviction/homelessness) was experienced by a partner.
Different ethnic cultures that lead to differing thoughts, feelings, and beliefs about finances.
I have been married to my wife, Kristi, for 17 years. Marriage is hard work. I have been licensed to manage money for almost 19 years, have an MBA, and fancy certificates—managing money is hard work, too. Over those 17 years we have not managed all our money perfectly. For the curious, we currently manage our banking and bills with a combination of individual and joint accounts. I miss the times it was 100% joint and life was less complicated.
No matter how complicated your life is or has grown to be, I have found personally and professionally, that having flexibility, transparency, and communication are the keys to effective money management in marriage.
If you are struggling to plan or effectively communicate about your finances with your partner it might be time for Financial Therapy. Let’s work together to better understand each of your money stories and work to improve your overall financial well-being.