When my ex-husband and I got married, I did not know the right questions to ask about our finances. This led to many arguments and was a contributing factor in our divorce. Here's what I wish I'd known to ask from the beginning.
What Is Your Spending and Saving Style?
My ex-husband and I had very different spending and saving styles. I was conservative and liked to have a cushion of savings. When my spending got out of control, which it sometimes did, I took on a second and sometimes even a third job in order to dig myself out of the hole. I did not like being in debt and tried to do the right things in order to keep myself out of credit card debt. My ex-husband liked to spend money. The more money he had, the more he would spend. He did not have any savings and saw no problem with that. He did not have any credit card debt when we got married but that changed pretty quickly once we got joint credit cards.
These different spending and saving styles was a recipe for disaster from the beginning. He didn't like how much I wanted to save and I didn't like how much he wanted to spend. This led to many arguments but the funny thing was that we never bothered to sit down and really talk about our spending styles. We didn't try to reach a compromise on the issue, we just continued to fight about it.
Eventually, I started to spend too much too. I was feeling deprived. I knew how much he was spending and thought that I deserved to spend just as much as he did. The problem with this was that it just got us further in debt.
How Do We Want to Handle Our Money?
We never talked about if we wanted to have joint accounts and whether or not we wanted all of our accounts to be joint. We didn't talk about who would handle paying the bills or if we would do it together. We simply opened up a joint checking account, joint credit cards, and a joint loan on the house we bought. I handled the joint checking account and paying the bills. This situation also led to many arguments. I felt like I was handling our money appropriately but my ex-husband thought he didn't have enough money to spend on the things he wanted.
What I learned from all of this is that it is vital to have open and honest communication about finances. It is important to know how each of you spends and saves money and how each of you feels the money should be handled. Then you need to find a compromise where neither one of you gets exactly what you want but you arrive at a situation that you both can live with.
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- Banking & Budgeting