Finicky Finances – Who Controls the Checkbook?

Newlywed FinancesA huge percentage of couples who wind up divorcing do so over finances. In fact a study done by Utah State University in 2009 reported that couples who argued over money at least once a week were over 30% more likely to get divorced than those who only disagreed about money once or twice a month.  Those who argued over finances almost every day were over 100% more likely to get divorced than those couples who were able to agree over their checkbook. So if money is the root of all evil, at least in terms of marriages, how can you and your new spouse avoid this marriage pitfall?

Make a Plan

The only way that you can fight back against falling apart due to money is to have a plan. It doesn’t matter if you have only one income coming in, or two, it’s vital that you both are able to put together a plan that works for the household. And it’s actually a very easy thing to do. The first thing that you should do is to figure out how much money you’ve got coming in, and how much you’ve got going out. Sit down together and add up how much money you bring home in a month. You then simply take all of the monthly recurring bills that you have and subtract them. Things like cable or internet or cell phone or rent are all things that should be deducted, one at a time, so that you can see how much money you have left at the end of the month. You can also estimate how much you spend a week for things like groceries and gas, and can deduct this amount as well.

The money that you have left over at the end of the money is the “play” money. This is the money that you both need to decide how to use. Some couples opt to give each other a stipend each week that they can spend however they want, while others simply pool the money into one big pile and use it how they see fit. What’s important is that you decide, together, what you want to do.

It’s also important that you decide who pays the bills. Some couples like to sit down and to do them together, while others prefer that one couple be responsible.  Even if only one person is actually making the payments, both of you should know what’s going on, so if you’re the bill payer, make sure you tell your spouse when you’re paying this bill or that bill. This way both of you know where the money is going each month.  And most importantly of all: no secrets.  If your finances are strained, tell your spouse.  Tips like these will help to keep money from becoming the big evil that so many couples see it as.

How have you solved your financial situation as newlyweds? Do you have anything to add to this post?

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