“You don’t get married for yourself, you get married because you’re better together than separate.” -Dirk Hayhurst
Being married is one of the most wonderful things in the world, but it’s not always cloud nine! In the beginning, there are lots of changes to adapt to – such as doing things together and asking for your spouse’s opinion before making any decision, including how to spend money and manage your finances.
In handling joint finances, your spouse can be your best advocate, your worst enabler or maybe just a plain annoyance. The reality, though, is that all couples want to be financially secure, but many also struggle with their individual wants, differing values, imbalanced incomes, and their desires to have their contributions in the relationship to be recognised and respected.
Here are some examples of financial challenges that many couples go through:
- Having kids
- Inconsistent pay checks
- Medical issues
- Secret purchases
- Loss of a job
- Debt trouble
In situations like these, couples must agree on how to manage their finances to make it work! However, what has worked when you were single may not necessarily work after getting married. Since every situation is different and there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution, we have compiled a list of money management strategies that real couples have tried. Could one of these strategies be right for you?
Tips on How to Manage Money as a Couple
Method 1: Combine all your finances in one account.
This is where you put your salaries in a joint account that both of you have access to. When you were single, you managed your money by yourself; you paid your own bills and had your own savings account. After getting married, your salaries are now considered as one – there’s no “mine” and there’s no “yours”.
Reasons why this is good:
- Easier to manage.
- You can see all of your money in one place and know where it goes.
- You will be able to see if you still have money for a purchase, or if you are going further down in debt.
- You can manage the day to day decisions without nagging at each other.
How to do this:
- Open a joint account. It’s better to open it in a bank account to which you can easily transfer money.
- When payday comes, transfer your money to the joint account.
- All expenses will be paid from this account regardless of how much each person makes.
- You can also assign individual and joint fun money, to spend as you like.
Method 2: Combine your budget for certain bills in one account, then for the rest keep in your separate bank accounts.
In this method, you and your partner agree on how much you each will pay toward the bills, then you total all the bills and combine the money in one account. You will then use that account to pay for the bills. You will have separate cash to use however you want.
Reasons why this is good:
- You can still enjoy a portion of your own salary without neglecting bills.
- Does not need a lot of adjustment from the days when you were handling your own finances.
- Can be a bit complicated to manage but it can be done as long as there’s a well-defined agreement on each other’s responsibilities.
How to do this:
- Decide first how much each of you will contribute to the bills. It can either be by bill nature (husband pays for electricity, wife pays for cable), or percentage (50% of each other’s salaries goes to bills).
- Open a joint account.
- Total your bills, then transfer money to the joint account come payday. Use that account to pay the bills as they fall due.
- Each separate account will have its own funds to pay for personal expenses.
- The rest of the expenses can be split equally between the couple (unless one side agrees to pay it in full, or through some other arrangement).
Note: Aside from the bills in the joint account, joint funds can also be used towards savings or retirement. This method is ideal for those who earn almost the same amount.
For couples with a big difference in pay, this method could bring the issue of a big disparity in fun money left in the savings account. Some might find it unfair if the other one earns more and has more money to spend on personal stuff. You can solve the problem by having the same amount of money to spend personally or the other one that earns more pays a larger contribution toward the bills.
Method 3: Split everything down the middle.
In this method, all the bills are split equally and you each maintain your personal accounts.
Reasons why this is good:
- Can be fair for both parties.
- Easy to calculate since everything is divided equally.
- Great for those who receive the same pay.
How to do this:
- A joint account may or may not be needed for this method, as long as you can both pay the bills electronically (if you opt not to pay in cash).
- Deposit your share of the bills, wait for the other to deposit their share then pay the bill.
- Pay half of the bill from your own account then the other will pay half the bill from their own account.
So, these are the top methods most couples use to manage their money. Experiment with each one and see which works best for you. Remember, money should not be a reason for couples to fight. So as long as one method works, you can stick to it. Below are some additional tips which you can implement as a team.
Money-Saving Tips for Couples to Help Manage Finances
1. Start Budgeting Together
This makes a lot of sense if you live together – so sit down with some garlic bread and wine, bust out that excel spreadsheet and list all of your expenses! Consider your future goals together – whether that be something fun like going on a holiday, or something more serious, like saving for a house! Setting a savings goal together can be a really fun way to approach budgeting as a couple!
Note: There are several ways to implement a budget. Here’s an example to illustrate: say you have exhausted the budget on toiletries, does that mean you can’t buy tissues? In this situation, you can do either of the following:
- Be strict; don’t buy tissues and wait for next month. For some couples, being strict in budget works better, especially if they know they tend to abuse flexibility.
- Be flexible; buy the tissues and subsidise the cost from other items in your budget. A budget doesn’t have to be set in stone, and you can always adjust as needed.
Both styles above can work, so it depends on your preference. If money is quite tight right now, you can follow a strict budget until you have enough means to be more flexible, thereby reducing stress.
Remember: budgeting is a lot of trial and error, so don’t get stressed if you don’t get it right the first time!
2. Use a Budgeting App
After creating the budget, use a budget app to track your progress. Some awesome apps you can try include Mint, PocketBook, UpBank, ANZ Money Manager and the like! And you can set them up so both partners have access and can see your financial standing in real-time.
Sometimes, one partner tends to get more stressed out when they have to deal with budgeting, or they simply aren’t the best at handling finances. If that is the case, let the one who is better with finances manage the budget.
3. Give Each Other Permission to Spend Money
Of course, there are things that you will want to buy for yourself, regardless of your budget! Therefore, it’s important to set aside fun money so each of you can buy what you want, without questions. Every month you can ask each other, what do you want to do with the fun money this month? Then you can budget it out and enjoy the flexibility.
So there you have it, our top tips on how to save and manage money, from couples who have already successfully done it! We hope you have learnt something from this article and can take action to better monitor your debts and finances.
And as always, if you’re struggling with debt, don’t be afraid to get in touch! We’ve helped thousands of Aussies get out of debt so they can move forward with their future, and whether you’re single or in a relationship – we can help! Call us on 1300 003 328 or email email@example.com.