Marriage is hard work. Managing your money can be hard work. When you combine marriage and money, things can get emotionally heated, and difficult. If you aren’t careful, money can ruin your marriage.
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As you get ready to wed — or even if you are already married — it’s a good idea to review your financial situation and talk about the money. Make sure you’re on the same page and try to avoid making these 6 money mistakes that could ruin your marriage:
1. Combining Finances Before You’re Ready
Some couples combine their finances because it’s what they think they are “supposed” to do. However, this can be problematic in some cases. You might not be ready to combine finances because of one spouse’s credit history, or for other reasons. Think about the situation, and decide what will work best for you. In some cases, it works to combine some accounts — for shared expenses — and keep some accounts separate.
2. Trying to Change Your Spouse’s Money Style
We all have different money styles. My husband and I are both spenders, but we like to spend our money on different things. I prefer experiences; he likes material possessions. In the past, it was hard for me not to be resentful when thinking about the places we could travel if we didn’t have a home full of clutter. However, trying to change him isn’t going to work. We can work through the differences, though, by acknowledging what’s important to the other person. Now, he gets a set amount he can spend on things, and I have money I can save up for travel or other experiences. The goal should be to understand where your spouse is coming from, and then work out a plan that works for both of you.
One of the biggest money mistakes is a failure to set shared goals. Talk about what’s important to you, and then set goals that you can work on together. Whether it’s contributing to a retirement nest egg, or saving up for a cruise next year, it’s important to have money goals that draw you together. Talk about what you both want to accomplish, and look for things you can do together to reach your money goals.
4. Focusing Too Much on Stuff
Even though my husband thinks it’s fun to buy little character figures, he doesn’t focus too much on things. They don’t define him. They’re just fun things he likes to buy with his disposable income. A focus on things, or status, though, can be ruinous to a marriage. If you are more concerned with keeping up with the neighbors, or trying to look rich, rather than focusing on enriching your relationship, you will always be unhappy with what you have. That sort of materialism can result in debt, and strain in your marriage.
5. Forcing Traditional Roles
I have always been the primary breadwinner in our household. Before I started working from home, my husband cared for our son, staying home while I worked and he finished his degree. We could have had me stay home, as many traditional couples around us were doing, while my husband worked a job and went to school. But I was done with my degree, and my earning power was higher. So it made more sense for me to go to work. Don’t be so stuck in traditional roles that you give up opportunities to better your financial situation.
6. Keeping Money Secrets
Sometimes it’s called “financial infidelity.” No matter what name you give it, though, it’s a bad idea. Keeping money secrets from your spouse can result in problems later, especially in terms of trust. Be open about your finances, and let your spouse know what you are doing with the money.
What other money mistakes can ruin a marriage?
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