Everyone makes mistakes. And almost everyone has made mistakes when it comes to finances. Once you start sharing your life with another person, sometimes those mistakes can be magnified or more mistakes materialize. Here are some common money mistakes couples make and how you can sidestep them.
1. Avoiding the Topic
A reluctance to talk about money is common — people don’t generally do it in polite conversation. But discussing financial goals and potential issues with one another can empower you as a couple to make smarter decisions now and in the future.
It’s a good idea to talk about this early on, with the goal of stopping any conflict before it starts. As with any topic, you don’t necessarily have to agree on financial issues, but sharing your views, past experiences and goals about money can start a dialogue.
Ignoring money problems won’t make them go away. It’s important to acknowledge the challenges so you can create a plan to solve them.
2. Not Looking at All Options
There are many ways for couples to handle finances. Of course, there’s completely combining finances and keeping them totally separate. But there’s a lot of gray area in between.
For example each person can have a separate account for daily spending with joint accounts for major expenses like rent or mortgage payments and vacation savings. Or you can have one of you in charge of all bills due at the end of the month and the other look after the bills due in the middle of the month. There are lots of options worth considering to determine what works for you and your spouse or partner.
When it comes to managing the money, you may have someone who does it all and another who handles other non-financial responsibilities. Or you could each handle part of your finances. You may take control of monitoring savings for example (like ensuring you are saving enough toward retirement) while your partner takes on the day-to-day budget.
3. Forgetting to Revisit
No matter what your arrangement, it’s important to discuss it periodically to determine if the current system is working or needs changing.
There are certain times in life when one of you may be too busy to take on some of these financial roles (back at school or going through a stressful time at work) and the other person will take the lead. But that doesn’t mean it always has to stay that way. If one of you feels left out of the decision-making, this could lead to hurt feelings or resentment.
One way to avoid this is to talk over your financial plan frequently. This also can help you discuss any changes to the financial situation or to your goals.
Raises and bonuses can bring an unexpected boost to your budget but they can also bring tension. One of you may assume this will be a great way to top off the emergency fund while the other will want to plan a celebratory weekend getaway. But talking about it before acting can help you both to feel involved and valued. And that’s important for not just your finances but your relationship overall.
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