Managing Money Challenges With Your Spouse
When two persons join forces in a marriage or co-habiting union, one of the important aspects that will determine the success of their relationship is how well they manage money together. While money can't buy love, it can definitely solidify and secure the foundation of a family bond.
In the best-case scenario, spouses should operate as a team when making all their financial decisions. Both parties should pool their income on an equitable basis to ensure that the household needs are met, and they should make plans to accomplish long-term objectives for the future.
While you hope that you and your spouse will share the same goals and work together to achieve the best for your family, there are times when the financial union may be rocky. Let's look at some of the negative money issues that may arise between spouses, and suggest practical strategies to overcome them.
Inadequate income contributions
In many families, it is necessary for both spouses to work to provide the income required for their shared expenses. With the high cost of living today, there can be considerable financial pressure if one partner is unable to contribute a fair share of money towards the household budget.
Income imbalances can arise for several reasons. One spouse could be attending school, working in a low-paying occupation, running an unprofitable business, or unable to find a job at all. Whatever the cause, there could be some amount of resentment if only one party has to bear the burden of the bills.
If you are facing this problem, then you and your spouse must work together to find ways to trim your costs and earn extra cash. Download a budget form at www.financiallysmart.org and itemise your personal and shared expenses. Work out the sum required each month to meet your family's needs.
Once you know how much your lifestyle really costs, you can calculate the income shortfall figure that is causing financial stress. Next, look at budget items that can be reduced or eliminated, such as the cable service. Also, explore income creation options that can help you to increase your earnings.
Lack of trust
The subject of money is still very taboo for many people, and this unwillingness to discuss personal finances may also be brought into the relationship. It's not uncommon for spouses to be clueless about the location and total amount of their partners' savings accounts or investment portfolios.
Some persons will state that they do not trust their spouses with their money, as they believe that they may misuse the funds. However, if the partner with the hidden money falls critically ill or dies, then it may be difficult to access cash to deal with bills or continue the smooth running of the household.
If you are not comfortable with disclosing your financial details to your spouse, you still need to leave information with a confidant who can gain access to your funds if you are incapacitated. You could also write down pertinent details in a place that could be easily found if something happens to you.
On the other hand, if your spouse refuses to share important financial information with you, explain why it's necessary for you to be aware of the money situation, especially if there are children involved. Ask your spouse to leave key details somewhere that can be accessed in the event of an emergency.
Dishonest financial practices
While some cases of money mistrust are probably unfounded, there are instances when spouses have to be wary of their partners' financial practices. There are many stories of people who were engaged in fraudulent activities while their spouses were completely oblivious to their underhand behaviour.
While there may be other reasons for seemingly suspicious financial transactions, you need to be aware of certain red flags. These include high-end purchases that don't match your spouse's income, large unexplained sums deposited to your accounts, or stashes of cash in hiding places around the home.
If you have concerns about the financial dealings of your spouse, you should seek legal advice to determine your best options. If your fears are realised, you could be held responsible for your partner's actions or you could lose jointly held property that was legitimately purchased with your own funds.
Other issues which can arise between spouses that may threaten the stability of their finances include irresponsible habits related to debt and spending, lack of planning for future goals such as children's education or retirement, and the unwillingness to protect the family by acquiring adequate insurance.
The way to successfully manage money with your spouse is to have a trusting relationship in which you can both share all your objectives and concerns. Once you are on the same page in other areas, then you will find solutions to any money problems and achieve a harmonious financial life together.
Cherryl is a money coach, business mentor and founder of Financially S.M.A.R.T. Services. Her upcoming book, "The 3 Ms of Money" will reveal all the secrets she learned about financial success. Read more on money and business matters at financiallysmartadvice.com and entrepreneursinjamaica.com. Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.