In this segment of Love Notes, we're talking money. Chad and I met when we were twelve at the art table and have been together ever since. We've been married now for four years (we're 28), and we've learned a few things along the way. Mostly, we've learned that monogamy and happiness are possible in the modern world, even if a perfect marriage isn't.
Money Fights: Why Money Makes Us Stressed
Eek! It’s the blog post no one wants to read—the one about money.
Why do we clam up when we even think about the green paper? There seems to be a built in freak-out button in us that causes us to zip our lips when someone starts talking about financial aspects. We never talk about salary with each other, and we hate to admit we are broke. There’s so much shame, pride, and insecurity when it comes to talking money.
I think many marriages find themselves in trouble over financial aspects because of this very reason. Even when we’re sharing a bed with someone, we hate talking money. We avoid it, we pretend it doesn’t matter, we pretend it doesn’t exist.
Until it does matter and money’s existence in our relationship rears its ugly head.
However, there are secrets to keeping money out of your marriage at least from a fighting perspective.
Money Fights: The Early Years
During the early years of marriage, Chad and I were trying to just keep it together. We had both lived under our parents’ rooves forever. We had no clue how one went about creating a budget or how much the water bill would cost.
We were clueless.
I can remember that first week of marriage.
We were TERRIFIED we were going to blow it financially. We took a calculator the grocery store and were afraid to even buy a pack of cookies because we didn’t want to run out of money.
With this fear came a lot of stress, and with stress, fights sometimes break out.
Overall, we’ve been fortunate to not have many money fights, even in the beginning. There were a few times we argued because one of us made a purchase the other deemed unnecessary. There have been times when everything seemed to break at once and money became an issue.
But we’ve never had a screaming, knock down fight over money.
We learned a formula early on for success when it came to financials in married life.
Money and Marriage: Secrets to Success
We have a few rules that we’ve followed since we said “I do.” These rules have helped us keep things running smoothly, even when we hit a few monetary disasters.
1. Always check with the other person when making a significant purchase.
A $5 shirt…obviously buy it! That doesn’t need permission. That would just be annoying.
A $300 game system or a $100 pair of shoes? Maybe, but we need to talk about it.
This isn’t something we learned the hard way—it’s just been the way we roll. Maybe it’s because we’re both incessant chatterboxes who feel the need to tell each other everything, but we’ve always had a habit of giving each other a heads up when we want to make a bigger purchase. It helps us stay real about our money situation. We can make sure we don’t have any big expenditures coming up.
And we’re both reasonable. I know sometimes he needs to splurge on that video game just like sometimes I need to splurge on my hair (beauty is money, right?). We’ve been good at compromising and at giving each other room to make big purchases. By keeping each other in the loop, though, we are able to work together toward our common money goals without blowing it because of secret purchases.
2. Separate accounts
Our families and the checkout people often look at us like we are NUTS…but we have separate accounts. We keep our paychecks separate and our accounts separate.
Why not a joint checking account?
Honestly, it was just easier when we started. We both had direct deposit and certain auto payments set for our accounts. We are both too lazy and hate waiting in bank lines to go and switch it. So we kept it.
We sat down when we got our apartment and again when we bought our house. We divided up the bills fairly, leaving us both the same amounts or close to it. I pay my half out of my checks, and he pays his.
What we have leftover we can spend or save.
It’s worked beautifully. We both are more accountable for our spending this way.
Do we have to help each other out or move money around? Yes. But this is where rule one comes into play.
I also think as a modern woman, it’s nice to have my own source of money. I like the independence and freedom it symbolizes. We may be a financial unit, but we each still have our own sense of contribution and worth. I recommend it.
3. Realize Mistakes Will Happen
Are we the perfect picture of financial expertise? Absolutely not. We’ve had to reboot from time to time. We spend more than we should.
But we’ve learned over the years to cut each other slack. We both have our financial flaws. I buy way too many pairs of shoes, and he’s addicted to gaming. We both sometimes get off track from our long-term goals. But that’s okay. We don’t hold it against each other.
Talking About Money: Communication is Everything
By keeping communication open and making each other feel like equals, we’ve avoided the money fights that plague so many couples.
I think above all, we’ve learned that communication is everything. You have to figure out what you both want short-term and long-term, and then work things out to make them happen.
There will be mistakes. There might even be the dreaded money fights.
But as long as you keep the communication open, you can avoid a marriage ending in a violent rage characteristic of a typical game of Monopoly. Need more tips? Check out this great article by Forbes on how to not let money ruin your marriage.
Married? Have a topic about marriage you think we should discuss? Let me know in the comments!
Wondering what the heck this Love Notes thing is all about? Be sure to check out my first post for more information.