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My recent conversation with Scott Halliwell, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner with USAA, about newlyweds and finances got me thinking. What if we’re not newlyweds? What if we have been married for years? Shouldn’t we have it all figured out by now?
Granted, my husband and I are long past the initial shock of integration of our personal financial footprints into one set of feet. Yes, we have had the hard discussions of who will handle the finances, whether or not we should have joint checking, if and when we should invest, and even most of those initial large purchases that you swear you won’t live through. That doesn’t mean we’re done talking finances.
We have our basic budget established. We know what we want to afford and what we can afford. Every major life event, every holiday, every vacation, every pay raise, every change in rank, every permanent change of station (you get my drift) we have a financial talk, again.
We both have personalities that work well together when it comes to finances so we seldom argue though I will admit to some disagreements from time to time. We are lucky though, because arguments about money hamper many marriages. There have been many studies that show couples fight more about money than they do about sex. Whether those arguments stem from the budget, the division of the money, who is earning/spending the money, debt, or an array of other financial issues, they’re prevalent.
Many financial blogs and advice columns say communication is key to keeping marriage strong when it comes to money. I completely agree. Just the other day my girlfriends and I were talking about finances and our spouses. I won’t lie I was feeling a bit out of place as they discussed how things weren’t working well in this area of their marriage.
The topic of spending money on themselves and the kids came up. I asked them what their “must talk about” spending limit was that they had agreed on with their spouse. They both looked at me strangely. I thought everyone had this limit.
Our agreed upon spending limit is one of the golden nuggets of advice I tucked away from my mother-in-law. She said that there will be times that each of us just wants to spend outside of the budget. Whether that expense be a new dress, some extra ammo for the range, or even a gift for a loved one. What we needed to do is agree on an amount that we both felt comfortable with that we could spend without talking to the other one about it. Anything over that amount had to be a joint decision. My husband and I set our limit. It has been a savior to our relationship as it is a ground rule.
Money is never fun to talk about unless you’re swimming in it. Chances are you’re not swimming unless you’ve won or been given money or you’re celebrating your hard work and achievement of saving some. That hard work has to start somewhere and it has to have a plan and established boundaries. Whether you’re a newlywed or you’ve been around the block for years communicating frequently and openly and establishing those agreed upon rules is something that I would encourage.
Do you and your spouse disagree when it comes to money?
What “ground rules” do you have for your money marriage?
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Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. owns the certification marks CFP® and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ in the United States, which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.
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