Mixing Money When You Get Married

Mixing Money When You Get Married

Mixing money is one of the hardest parts of a new marriage.  Money problems are one of the leading causes of marital problems, and no one likes problems.  Putting extra effort into joining your finances will set your marriage up for years of money success.

Before You Get Married

Have A Joint Wedding Budget:  Planning the budget for your wedding together is a great opportunity to see how your partner thinks about spending and priorities.  It will also give you practice in working your budget together.

Share Your Background:  Everyone’s behavior is influenced by their upbringing and prior experiences.  Talking about your background can shed some light into why you behave the way you do, which will help both you and your new spouse to understand.  Talk about how your parents handled money, what you did and did not learn from them, and things you’ve done right and done wrong so far in your adult life.

Create Goals Together:  Take some time to envision what you want your financial life to look like in the future.  Do you want to be out of debt before you have children?  Do you envision buying a house, or do you like the freedom of renting?  Do you guess you might want to retire someday, or do you expect that you’ll want to work forever?  Shared goals makes it easier to stick to your financial plans.

Once You Are Married

My advice for married finances sounds contradictory, but it really isn’t.  I suggested that married couples share their finances completely, with five specific exceptions.

  1. I strongly believe that each partner should maintain their own credit, usually by having at least one separate credit card account.
  2. I also strongly believe that the couple should contribute to retirement accounts for each partner, even if both partners do not work.
  3. Lastly, I think it’s a decent idea for each half of the couple to have their own smallish savings account from which they could access funds in case of an emergency.
  4. Folks with children from previous marriages may have special needs far beyond the scope of this conversation.
  5. If either partner has a serious financial issue, such as a spending or gambling problem, then none of this applies.

Beyond these five exceptions, mixing money is one of the many ways that you demonstrate that you are fully committed to sharing all aspects of your life with your new spouse.

Each couple will have to find a way to handle day-to-day spending and bill-paying – there’s no right answer, and it takes some trial-and-error to come up with the right system for your personalities, skills, and availability.  Many military families find that the non-military spouse eventually becomes responsible for the day-to-day money management because they are consistently home to handle these tasks.

If one partner handles the bulk of the money, figure out a way to share information.  It could be as simple as chatting for ten minutes a week over coffee, or reviewing your You Need A Budget (YNAB) account, or sending a link to your spreadsheet once a month.  Whatever works for you is right.

Money is hard enough – don’t let it be an issue in your marriage.  Communication and common goals can help make even the biggest financial challenges a little more manageable.


About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • Hi my name is Reyann Tafoya veteran US navy;) I am ful Native American single parent of two. I got married to this person who also was or is in the millitary.we got married while on active duty. Its been ten Mayb less that i have not seen him or had any CONTACT FROM HIM. I GOT OUT HONORABLE N NEVER SEEN HIM SINCE THEN. IVE GOTTEN NO BENEFITS NO MONEY NOTHING FROM HIM!! I think he was getting BAH AND I DID NOT C ONE CENT! Im still married to him and dont know how to contact him. I have my marital papers also from sa.n Diego ca where the marriage took place. I want to divorce because there are setbacks in my life i have to put on hold because of this invisible marriage on paper.thank u for reading this message/burden/statement that i had to carry with me for almost a decade….in return ihope u give me helpful advice on wat to do to start moving on devoubtly ,with high intentions to still acquire newer goals and achievements in my life.

    • Kate

      Ms. Tafoya, you need to secure the services of an attorney. This is well beyond the advice available here. Good luck to you!