Money problems can really break a marriage.
Money can be a source of contention or a source of contentment.
My husband and I built our marriage on a solid financial foundation. It has strengthened our dream marriage. Since we’ve been married, we have doubled our household income and I have tripled my own income. We have also avoided having arguments about money.
I wanted to share with you what we did to avoid having money problems in our marriage. If you’re having money problems with your spouse, maybe some of the things we did can help you improve your finances and then lead to a dream marriage.
If you are about to get married, this may help you start your marriage on a strong financial foundation. Here are 10 things we do or did to avoid money problems.
1. Discussed money goals
Before my husband and I got married, we discussed our money goals. We both had aspirations to be financially secure and had a certain income we wanted to achieve.
In a counter example, I discussed finances with one of my old boyfriends. He was much older than me. He talked about having a “lucrative” job and was not interested in furthering his career.
I later found out that he made $10 (USD) an hour. I realized then that we had different standards. A marriage wouldn’t have worked for us. We weren’t aligned in our aspirations.
Handling finances with my husband has been pretty smooth since we had the same financial goals and the motivation to go after them.
2. Put money together.
Whenever I discussed finances with my married co-workers, most of them said they kept their accounts separate from their spouses. They gave a certain amount of money for their bills or divided up the bills and decided who pays each bill.
While couples can decide how they want to do things, we found that putting our money in a joint account worked best for us. Just so you know, we didn’t get a joint account until after we were married.
When we got paid, we direct deposited our money into the joint account. Then we paid our bills out of that account. My husband and I make around the same amount so it’s advantageous for us to put our money together. We don’t worry about who pays what bill since all of the money is coming from one account.
It’s also easy for us to pay for unexpected expenses and anything dealing with the children. With putting our finances together, we have more than enough money to cover our bills.
3. Distributed an equal amount to our personal accounts
Besides having a joint account, we also have personal accounts. With each direct deposit into the joint account, a small portion goes to each of our personal accounts.
The amount we send to our personal accounts is the same. We don’t give someone a higher amount because they make a little more. We treat it as a no-questions-asked account where we can spend money any way we like.
With the credit union we use, we can see the money in the joint accounts and our own personal accounts. We can’t see what’s in the spouse’s personal accounts.
There are times when big purchases are too expensive to come out of my personal account. I just ask my husband if it can come out of the joint. Most of the time he agrees with the request.
We purchased my Dell laptop from the joint account and we purchased his iPad from the joint account. So, yes, we have personal accounts. However, mostly everything we buy comes from our joint account.
4. Paid off debt together
We got lucky and found a great minister for our premarital counseling. One of our assignments was to make a list of all of our debt and the interest owed. Once we had the list, we decided to tackle our debt immediately after we got married.
Some people focus on debts with the highest interest rates. We decided to focus on the amount of the debts owed. We first paid off my husband’s car loan. Once we paid off that car loan, we used the extra money to pay off his personal loan. Some people may refer to it as the snowball effect.
We kept throwing all of our extra money onto each of our debts until we were debt-free in 18 months. We spent the rest of our 10-year marriage debt-free except for the mortgage on our new house.
The nice thing about paying off debt is you have extra money after your bills are paid even if your salary does not increase.
5. Built savings together
With having no debt besides the mortgage, we were able to build up our savings account. The savings account grew fast since we had so much extra money. In the beginning of our marriage, we put money in our savings account when we got paid. We were able to pay cash for big things, such as our minivan, smart phones, finishing our basement, and big screen TVs.
Now we don’t put much in our savings accounts. We keep a 3-month emergency fund. In earlier years we were keeping an 8-month emergency fund. Since interest rates are so low, it doesn’t make sense to do that anymore.
We’re focused on paying off our mortgage fast and then we are going to work on increasing our money to our retirement accounts and the children’s college fund. We are following Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps. We’re on Baby Step 6 — Pay off your home early. We’re able to do all of this because we built our savings together.
6. Consult with each other on big purchases
Before we make a big purchase out of the joint account, we consult each other. We make sure the other spouse is good with the purchase. It forces us to make the smartest, most financially-wise decision. We like to buy items with the best quality for the best price.
When we needed to replace one of our toilets recently, my husband approached me about buying four new toilets for all of our bathrooms. We discussed the type of toilets we wanted to buy and the amount we wanted to spend on them. I was fine with it. We could easily afford them and we have had the same toilets since we bought the house 8 years ago.
Our biggest purchase we had to agree on was the house. My husband was definitely pickier than I was on the house. I grew up in a condominium so I was impressed with most single-family homes we saw. My husband wanted a house with a certain square footage. I was more interested in being able to easily afford the house. We kept house shopping until we both agreed on the house we were buying. In the end, we found a house that was big enough to meet my husband’s needs and affordable enough to meet my needs.
I read on social media where a woman bought a house without consulting with her significant other. She wanted to know if she was wrong. I vote yes. I can’t imagine not consulting with my husband before making such a big purchase. We both have to be happy with the purchase. It strengthens our communication skills with each other. It eliminates any resentment for anything we buy from our joint account. It works well for us to consult each other first.
7. Give to the church
My husband and I got married four months after he proposed to me. I panicked at the wedding prices when we were preparing for the wedding. We didn’t have any money saved at the time so I decided to use the money that I was giving to the church to pay for some of the wedding costs.
After I did that during the first month, my water heater broke, I had a water main break outside my house, and my dishwasher stopped working. I don’t know if those extra expenses had anything to do with me not giving money to the church, but I learned my lesson.
Ever since then, I make sure we always give at least 10 percent to the church every time we get paid. I learned not to mess with God’s money.
One of my favorite giving scriptures is Luke 6:38:
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Since we always give to the church first, we’ve been very blessed financially. We don’t deal with a lot of money problems.
8. Support Pay Increases
My husband and I both support each other’s career success.
When we met, I was unhappy with my job. My husband started sending me jobs to apply to. He sent me jobs that were way above my current salary. I didn’t think it was possible that I would get those types of jobs. He told me he believed I could get one. I applied to the jobs anyway and got a job that was a 63 percent increase of what I was making.
In the same way, I also supported him getting a promotion. Since I’m a writer, I strengthened his resume and it helped him get an interview for a job. After he had a strong interview, he got the job and the big promotion.
My husband also agreed to let me work a shift work position for 17 months. The position required me to work nights, weekends, and holidays. Not only did I get extra pay while working that job, I also got a promotion when I completed the position.
We supported each other’s career success because if one of us is successful, we’re both successful.
9. Put extra money into the joint account
When some spouses make extra money, they put the money in their personal account. We used to do that too. Then we realized it was hurting us. One of us made a little more income than the other every month and the money went to the joint account. The other one was getting overtime and bonuses and the money went to their personal account.
We realized that allowing one spouse to keep the extra money was unfair and caused division. When we decided to send all extra money to the joint account, it worked much better for us. It was easier to support the other partner when they made bonuses or brought in extra money.
It allowed us to pay off our debt faster, build up our savings quicker, and we were better able to make big purchases with cash. We were working more like a team.
10. Do what’s best for the family
In general, our focus is what’s best for our family. We do not focus on personal gain first.
We found that when we put the family first, it’s better for the individual and the family. If I lose my job, I would find a way to make money immediately for my family. I wouldn’t sit home not working. I would find an immediate job, while still seeking my dream job during my free time.
One of my aspirations is to write from home full time. I won’t make a move in that direction until I am able to fully replace my part of our income.
Doing what’s best for the family also means that I have work-life balance. I don’t stay late at work every day of the week. I used to. I don’t make a habit of it anymore. I would rather spend quality time with my husband and children.
Putting family first has really helped us avoid money problems in our marriage.
My husband and I have done well financially in our marriage. One thing that has really helped us is tackling our finances together.
We put our money together, paid off our debt together, and built our savings together. We recommend that other couples work as a team too.
As the saying goes, “teamwork makes the dream work.”