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Money and marriage: A couple’s guide to finances

Money. It’s a hot-button topic. This can be especially true with married couples, but it doesn’t have to be stressful or divisive. You can have fruitful financial discussions with your spouse – conversations that will get you both on the same fiscal page. The important thing is to talk; sweeping money issues under the rug is not good for your bank account or your relationship.

Here are a few, simple topics to start your money management conversation:

copule-managing-financeDetermine your spending styles: Are you a spender and your spouse is a saver? Opposites do attract, they say. Strike a balance between your styles. Spender, commit to saving a percentage of your discretionary income. And saver, resist the urge to judge your spouse’s spending style and loosen the grip on your wallet once in a while.

Track your spending: Ever wonder where your money goes each month? Track your spending so you can make the necessary adjustments to meet your financial goals. Our free budget worksheet can help you set up a plan and track spending.

Know your debt: One person’s debt becomes the other person’s debt in marriage. Establish what level of debt you are comfortable with and create a plan to reduce your shared debt if needed. Remember: The type of debt is important. Money spent on education (student loan debt) is productive debt as opposed to debt resulting from a luxury purchase. (Get help reducing debt by downloading our free e-book: The Debt Management Guide.)

Set a time to review your finances each month:It is important to review your bank statements, investment statements, and bills at least monthly to keep current on your balance. Look for mistakes, like being charged twice for the same debit card purchase. They happen more frequently than you might think.

Divide money management tasks: Determine who will pay the day-to-day expenses and monthly bills, who will manage the portfolio, who will track the budget, etc.

To merge or not to merge … your bank accounts, that is:Some financial advisors suggest married couples have a joint account for household expenses and individual accounts for discretionary spending. Decide if this, or one joint account, works for you.

Share financial decisions:Because your spouse’s finances directly affect your finances, it’s a good idea to make money decisions together. Leaving the finances to one person can leave the other in the dark, which can lead to frustration or overspending. It’s much easier to reach financial goals when you’re working together.

Managing your money doesn’t have to be a task that sets you at odds; it can be a unifying endeavor. Money and marriage can go hand-in-hand. So break out the bank statements, enlist the help of a financial advisor, and start talking about your fiscal goals. Do it together, and together you’ll reap the rewards.

Having a plan will increase your odds of achieving your financial goals. Download the marriage and money worksheet today.

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Author SAC FCU Managing Editor

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