Money – the cause of, and solution, to all of the world’s problems. For the long-term relationships, where the couple has moved in together and is sharing expenses, money then becomes a major point of contention.
Melissa and I try as hard as we can for equality in our marriage, especially when it comes to chores and money. Don’t get me wrong, we still argue from time to time about these things, especially our finances. That is why it is so important to talk about money with each other so you have the same expectations as each other.
Here are just a few tips that help Melissa and I keep money from ruining our lives and our marriage:
- Non-essential expenses are evenly split between us. Melissa likes new clothes, I like seeing concerts. These expenses essentially off-set each other. On pay day, I don’t immediately go to the casino and drop $200. And all major purchases and investments are made by committee.
- Learn the lessons from Dave Ramsey. For $79, you can gain access to the online version of his course; they send you a bunch of supplemental material, too. Make an hour appointment each week to go through an entire lesson. It’s 14 lessons long, I think. One of the basic tenants he teaches is that you have to do a budget every single month. And you should allocate every single dollar before you spend it. It may be tough to stick to it the first few months, but you should eventually get the hang of it and hopefully you’ll soon get to start saving and/or paying down your debt.
- This is kind of a meld between #1 and #2 – both of you should know how to pay every bill. That includes keeping track of website log-ins, knowing where the checkbook is, and how to pay the rent or mortgage. From a functional standpoint, what happens if the usual bill payer needs emergency surgery and is in the hospital for a month? But there are other reasons, too. When one person is always responsible for paying the bills, not only does it get stressful when there isn’t enough money from month to month, it’s too easy for the other person to blame the bill payer for any money problems. The budget for each month must be created and then approved by both parties. It can typically be made by one person, but then the other person needs to review it and make at least one change – otherwise they can still blame the bill payer when the budget doesn’t work out. (This is another tip from Ramsey’s program.)
All in all, it pays to stay ahead of any money problems that will develop. Ramsey, among others, advocates having an emergency fund – $500 to $1000 for those in significant debt, and then saving up to 3 to 6 months of living expenses as you can afford it. This does two things. First it helps you cover unexpected expenses that pop up from time to time that you can’t afford in your monthly budget. And secondly, it helps take away some of the worrying and stress about money. Struggling to pay the bills from month to month is one of the most stressful things any of us will have to go through. Having even a little emergency fund goes a long way to help relieving that worry.
Bottom line – Hopeful Romantics make healthy money decisions together so money doesn’t cause any unnecessary stress or arguments.