Times Chronicle & Public Spirit

Teamwork is essential when it comes to marriage and money

- By Ryan Daniels

Money is one of the leading stressors in a marriage. It’s also one of the biggest reasons younger generation­s are holding off on saying “I do” or writing off the idea of marriage all together. Often times having a few simple conversati­ons, making a plan together and reviewing it often can solve most money problems in a marriage.

There seems to be a trend nowadays where couples keep money separate. Suze Orman, author, radio host and host of the “Woman & Money” podcast, says, “Couples share a lot with their partners, but they should not share bank accounts.”

I completely disagree! When two people make a commitment to get married it becomes “we,” not “me.” While you might choose varying degrees of involvemen­t in your family’s finances, there has to be input and a commitment from both spouses to make money work most effectivel­y in a marriage.

Keeping finances separate in a marriage is a sign of not fully committing. I’ve heard various reasons why people keep separate accounts, but all of them seem to shadow a feeling of distrust or lack of commitment. I can understand if one person takes the lead on managing money in a family, but both need to have an awareness of the financial plan and input when it comes to major decisions.

The solution is to learn how to have conversati­ons about money so that you and your spouse can develop a joint philosophy of how to manage money.

Just like you made decisions on how to combine furniture, share a closet or divide up chores around the house, you can figure out how to combine and manage money together.

The most important part of having success with money in your marriage is to develop the habit of a weekly money meeting. This gives you and your spouse the opportunit­y to come together and discuss the financial events of the past week and what’s ahead in the days to come. It’s a time to check your progress on your monthly budget, review your financial goals and have a meaningful conversati­on with your spouse instead of trivial commentary about the latest Netflix binge you are watching.

There are three steps to a successful money meeting:

Prepare >> Schedule a day/time in your calendar for your weekly money meeting. Make it fun and relaxed. Grab a bottle of wine and meet on the couch or grab a table at your favorite coffee shop to discuss. Print bank or credit card statements and have your monthly budget available to track your progress to date.

Review >> Look at the previous week’s spending and update your budget to see if you are on track for the month. Discuss any upcoming expenses for the week.

Plan >> Make adjustment­s if you are off track for the month. Make your meal plan for the week and discuss any future goals such as a vacation so you can begin the planning process.

Weekly money meetings

don’t have to be complicate­d or long and drawn out. Simply scheduling the time to touch base with your spouse about your finances can be the difference between stress and arguing about money and money simply being a tool to help you reach your goals.

Again, even if one person takes the lead when it comes to managing the family’s finances, it’s important for both to have an awareness. This is especially true as you age. If the person who primarily manages the money passes away first, this can be very difficult for the other person to take over if they have been left in the dark about the family’s finances. Instead, if you’ve made the weekly money meeting a habit, you will be able to take over much more easily.

While money can be a stressful topic in marriages, it doesn’t have to be. I think it’s important to have conversati­ons early and often, as it will make your relationsh­ip with money and your marriage that much more successful. For conversati­on starters and tips on how to make money work in your marriage, download a free “Married Money” workbook at www.RFinances. com/wedding.

Ryan Daniels is a financial advisor and author of “Money Basics and Fundamenta­ls.” He is host of the “Say Hi to Money” podcast and is an Army veteran who enjoys continuing to serve, “Supporting communitie­s building financiall­y strong families.” Visit his website at www. RFinances.com.

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Ryan Daniels

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