How’s Married Life? -Your Mate & Money

I’m starting a new series, my husband and I have now been married 8 months so we’re newlyweds still but since I’ve been married before I have something to compare this marriage too. I want to talk a little about marriage and my experience as Matt and I start off in a new marriage. Many people ask ‘how’s married life treating you?’ to married people. That question can come with a variety of answers. Matt and I are still getting to know each other as husband and wife, while we are enjoying it, it has presented us with some challenges. One of the biggest will probably be money. Yes, I’m starting out this series with one of the biggies, moola. It leads to a lot of divorces and broken trust. I know how to do the money thing wrong in a marriage and I’m learning how to do it right. Here’s my take on money in your marriage.

Now I’m going to tell the truth about my first marriage and money, plain and simple neither one of us trusted the other one when it came to money. That began our money problems in that marriage. Whether you’re rolling in the dough or barely scraping by, the first rule of preventing money issues is trust. I personally think this conversation and the kid conversation should be had in the pre-marriage stage. Trust is essential, I’ve heard people say they don’t let their spouses know about the money they’ve spent, fatal mistake, if you’re doing this you need to ask yourself a serious question about the level of trust in your relationship. I am currently not working and probably won’t work again but Matt doesn’t control all the money in this household just because he makes it. He keeps a budget but we have a joint account as well as separate accounts. I’m the only one that uses the separate account, but we each have access to all the bank accounts. I keep a separate account because he finds it easier to budget if I just take money and spend it separately. Matt is very set in his ways so it’s hard to get him to change how he budgets but it works fine for us so we keep it. We also have to inform each other if we spend money on extra items or I take extra money to put in the account I use. We have discussions frequently about the use of money. I have access to the bank account and budget so I’m always assured bills are being paid on time. I had some issues at the beginning of our marriage about my husband being timely with bill paying, that is important to me when I thought maybe he wasn’t we had a long talk about my need to feel secure about that issue. He actually was paying the bills on time but by expressing my needs, we had an open and frank conversation about that subject. Which brings me to my next suggestion regarding money.

Open and frank conversation needs to be had about money, you can’t have money secrets with your spouse. I have a bankruptcy, I am not ashamed of having a bankruptcy that’s what I needed to do and it’s a resource available so I used it and I’m glad I did. I left my previous marriage with a lot of debt and I was open and honest with him about that. Now I know people are plenty judgmental about debt but my thought is a bankruptcy was okay along as you learned a lesson and used your money more wisely. Learning is always my end goal, I can forgive a mistake and even understand it as long as you’ve learned something and are doing things differently. But I could not hide that from him, I had to be honest about my money past and open about my money future to assure him that I would not be repeating that mistake. And because we have to be accountable to one another regarding money, it has become incentive to me about being careful how I spend money. Now I’m not going to lie my husband can certainly spoil me but I don’t let him go overboard. We’ve just made a purchase, a newer car because his 14 year old car finally conked out so that’s another thing added to our budget. We just have to review that budget, adjust it when needed and keep the lines of communication open about our money.

We are still learning and adjusting when it comes to money and our household but I believe our foundations of trust and communication when it comes to money will lead to less issues regarding money in the future and feeling of security. Here are just some tips I have regarding money and your mate:

  • Stay open and honest
  • Don’t hide your money mistakes
  • Have a joint checking, if you’d like you have 2 extra separate accounts if that works for you do it, but don’t try to just have separate accounts it makes for trouble
  • Whoever is the best with handling bills and budgets, let them do it whether husband or wife. The other spouse needs access to bills and budgets, don’t just do this blindly
  • If you can’t trust a partner with money, I’m sorry you can’t trust them…period
  • Discuss all large purchases and if you like discuss all small ones too
  • Budget everything down to entertainment and what will go into savings accounts
  • Don’t divide bills to pay, all those should come out of joint account, if you do that it will only breed resentment
  • Figure out if you live in a community property state, it matters when it comes to money and spending, buying, and debt

I hope this was helpful to those of you starting out in marriages or in the pre-marriage stage. I’ll be back with more on “How’s Married Life?”

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13 thoughts on “How’s Married Life? -Your Mate & Money

  1. I really loved this post, Eugenia! I’m still kinda young so I’m just now really starting to get serious about my finances and just trying to plan for the future, so I’m always thinking about that aspect. I grew up in a house where both of my parents were kind of spenders and I didn’t want to be like that — and I don’t want to be with someone who is a major spender either.

    One thing I wanted to point out is I am alarmed with the amount of $$ people spend on weddings; I also notice a trend in my generation where people in their 20s are having a grand wedding AND buying a new house at the same time. Now maybe these people have money and can afford it, but I can’t imagine that *all* of these newlyweds in their 20s have that much money to foot the bill for both. It just seems like such a risky way to start a marriage under so much “new” debt. I realize some people get married with all sorts of old debt like school debt or credit cards — but why add more strain on top of that?

    A friend of mine recently had a large wedding, and they just bought a house; the kicker is she finished grad school and he finished med school so I am think they have hundreds of thousands of debt already without the house or the wedding. Again I could be wrong, but if it’s what I think it is, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. All the money talk in the world won’t help if people are so comfortable beginning a new life that way.

    • I wonder this as well. My husband and I are in the process of buying a home, but we waited almost two years after our wedding to do so. We saved up some money and paid off some debt before trying for a house. We still have debt to pay off and our savings could be better, but with interest rates being low (and a baby on the way), we figured we’d do it now… BUT, like you said, we didn’t just jump into the home-buying process immediately after the wedding! (And we’ve been out of school a while, so our college debt is well under hundreds of thousands!)

      • I’ve seen this scenario on HouseHunters many times and it boggles my mind. First I didn’t have a big wedding, mine was small because I wanted it that way. Nothing against big weddings but yes it’s a lot of money and I wonder where ppl get all this money to go buy a house. It’s usually not like they’re independently wealthy and they’ve usually paid for the wedding. I wouldn’t dare go into a home purchase with zero down not that many banks even do those anymore. Everyone has to make their own choices & priorities and what success means to them. Personally I have no desire to buy a home, I owned a condo with my ex and it was during then housing debacle so I’m reticent that was nightmare we barely got rid of. Right now Matt and I are saving for retirement and we like to do other things so renting is a sound for US. But having a conversation with your partner is important so you know each other’s money priorities whether it’s home, kids, car, traveling, saving for retirement, buying a vacation home, investing, debt whatever you need to know & before you get married.

  2. Hey Eugenia! Excellent post about the nitty gritty of marriage. I read in more than a few places that finances/money are the top cause of conflict (and divorce) in marriages, so it’s important that these situations be discussed and handled early on.

    I totally agree on the joint account… and if you don’t trust your spouse’s ability to handle money and are afraid of getting a joint account well… maybe that indicates bigger problems to come in the marriage!!! And continual discussion is important, because financial situations can and do change per person (one person gets a raise, one person stops working, one person goes on unpaid maternity leave, one person gets a windfall, both decide to buy a home or a car, etc.)

    One option we have is the joint account for 90% of the expenses and the 10% “fun money” account to do whatever. We each can take a small portion of our paychecks (or if I’m not working, I’d get a small portion from the general pool) and we can spend that on whatever we want, no questions asked. So if I wanted to buy Louboutins, I could do that from my fun account. If he wants golf clubs, he buys those from his fun account. Because we can see all bank statements, we both know that “fun” purchases are not being made from our main household account. Even with that, we’ve both decided this year to devote half of our fun accounts to purchasing items for our home and baby (because we really don’t need any more shoes, bags or golf clubs!).

    It was good to know we were on the same page, give or take a few minor differences, about money from the start, which made it easy to ease into combined finances in marriage.

    • Well hello there Mama M. and Baby boy M., I’m still so excited for you guys. I’ll ask for your address in a DM b/c I want to send you a gift. I’ve got a good article coming up about babies and marriage. I’m going to be writing even more nitty-gritty articles about marriage. I’d love to have some guest post from other bw in interracials marriages. Think about it. I decided since I’m newly married and been married before, I’d share some of my insight on doing marriage better the second time around. Actually because it was so horrible the first time, it’s almost like being married for the first time with Matt.

      You guys got the system down for marriage and money. Keeping that open and honest communication can just help avoid all kinds of fights and issues about money. It lowers resentment and jealously regarding money. I don’t understand people sharing their bodies with someone but so unwilling to trust them with some money, yea you got issues in that relationship. I’ve discovered the joint account will help hugely with avoidance of problems. People need to have these conversations in the pre-marriage stage about how folks feel about and work with money. That’s not something you want to figure out and get a huge surprise after your married.

      • Hey there! 😀 Thanks so much for the kind words, and in advance for the gift. I’d love to read those future nitty-gritty articles… like you, I love being married to a great guy, but there is work in marriage that has to be done! (And like you said, it really starts before marriage!)

      • I’ll send you note soon to get the info. Yes, many discussions should be had before you walk down the aisle. Many ppl are engaged for months even years and these discussions never come up. I’m telling you if you’re scared to talk to your partner about important stuff because you fear the response to the conversation or think its going to turn into a fight, I wonder why those folks even get married.

  3. I should also mention that the reason this conversation touched me, is because my parents were very much in the same boat as the young couples when they met and married. Despite having been there themselves, they keep telling me, “MIND YOUR FINANCES AND DO NOT GET MARRIED BROKE!” (Caps necessary, because that’s pretty much how they talk whenever the subject comes up. XD

    It’s something I’ve been always taught to avoid, so when I see other people running head first into that situation, it makes me pause.

    • I was just having a convo about this with someone over at Twitter yesterday. I’m sorry love is not enough to sustain a marriage. It’s great and essential to marriage but when the bills show up and you’re broke and looking at each other trying to figure out why one or both of you are so horrible with money. Yea, no one is thinking about love then. Money will completely bust up a marriage, because it breeds resentment, tension, anger, and the hiding to money or money problems is just a no-no. But many folks fall in love thinking that’s all you need. Your parents gave you some sound advice, I know you’ll use and you can avoid a lot of drama and problems when you do.

  4. This is wonderful sound advice, Eugenia.

    I think I mentioned this in the other blog post but financial matters end up being a major factor in most divorces. I know one someone who was talking to her friends who were very young and getting married at points in the near future. Their complaint was that their fiances were immature with no goals or money plans and in one case were still living at home. I actually found it hard to believe these young women were going through with marriages that had massive red flags before a union was even formed. She couldn’t believe it either, but wished them luck.

    It’s definitely a conversation that you want to have, because I just cannot imagine being so blinded by any emotion, I’m willing to ignore a stumbling block that might cause considerable friction, complications, and eventual separation. You can accept someone for who they are, which is what I suspect the young women in question thought they were doing. That doesn’t mean you bind yourself to a person and their situation without seriously thinking about how it will affect you and any offspring you might have.

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