Did you know that October is Financial Planning Month? It's the perfect opportunity to work on all things money in your marriage! If you've been a reader of this blog for very long, you know that one of mine and Joe's favorite things to talk about is finances. We love to talk about our budget, how much we need to save, what big purchase we're going to save for next and how great of a deal we got our something we've been looking at buying or something on our grocery list. And even though we discusses our finances on almost a daily basis, sometimes we disagree on our budget or what the first priority is for our next big purchase, but the majority of the time, our money discussions are civil and even exciting. If you want to make your budget and everything money related a happy topic in your relationship, there are five questions that I think you should discuss and make sure you are on the same page when it comes to the answers.
Improve the Money Conversation in Your Marriage
Do You Plan on Combining Your Finances?
This is a discussion that I think is important to have before you get married, but if you're married and haven't talked about it, it's not too late! For us, there was no question when it came to the decision to view any money we had as "ours" instead of "his" and "hers". We've still found a way to handle personal spending and neither of us feel tied down by our budget or the fact that we both know about every purchase that is made or that we don't have as much freedom as we did when we were single and had nobody but us counting on our paycheck every month. If you've thought about combining your finances before but aren't quite sure how to make it happen, Check out this post I wrote a year and a half ago answering a lot of the questions about how to make combined finances work in marriage.
Do you Know How Much Each Other Makes?
This question is especially important if you plan to combine the finances in your marriage! In a post that I wrote in July, I talked about a survey that found that 43% of individuals don't know how much money their spouse makes. If you want to be able to budget properly and have no secrets when it comes to money, you need to know this fact about your spouse. Even if you decide to split your finances and the expenses that you are responsible for as a couple, you'll need to know how much your spouse can handle, what they are able to pay for and what you'll need to cover yourself. You may not know to the exact penny what each person's pay check is, but you should be able to give a pretty close estimate. This will help with your budget and planning for the future.
Have You Thought About Your Family's Future?
While we're on the topic of futures, why don't we talk about that? I know that when we were first married, we thought about our immediate future and briefly talked about how we wanted to save for retirement, but it hasn't been until things come up that we've gotten into these discussions even more. There is a potential for talk about the future to become heated if you're discussing it in a stressful situation or when money is tight. If you know from the beginning how much you want to have saved for retirement, whether or not you want to pay for your children's school, what vacations you want to take and when, if life insurance is something that you feel would be beneficial for your family, etc. I wrote a post earlier this year about the importance of preparing for your family's financial future and what things you should be thinking about.
How Do you Feel About Debt?
This is a loaded question, I know. Joe and I both had debt going into our marriage, but we set some very specific goals and were able to pay it all off a year and half later. After we were done, we knew that we never wanted to be in debt again, other than for a house. We've decided that we will be paying cash for our next car, we don't have balances on any of our store cards, and we've been able to put me through school without going into debt. That one decision not to be in debt has influenced how we save, how we spend, and how we prioritize our money. Decide as a couple what you are and aren't willing to go into debt for and use that to direct the rest of your discussions.
Debit, Credit or Cash?
Honestly, this wasn't something I thought much about until I met and married Joe. I had store credit cards, but wasn't interested in getting a general credit card, I'd tried the envelope system once, but wasn't a fan and I used my debit card to pay for everything. Joe's passion and knowledge for finances opened my eyes to a lot of things after we got married. He has very strong opinions about having and using a credit card, and if you've ever listened to or read Dave Ramsey, you probably know what his opinion is. He even convinced me to give the envelope system another try and I ended up really liking it! The resources that we use work well for us, figure out what will work for you and why you feel the way that you do.
Photography by Sadie Banks Photography