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Top Tips on How to Manage Money from Couples Who’ve Done It

“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 like most people, it’s not always cloud 9. In the beginning, there are lots of changes to adapt to, like doing things together and asking for your spouse’s opinion before making any decision, and that decision includes how to spend money and manage your finances.

With finances, your spouse can be your best advocate, your worst organizer or maybe just a plain annoyance. The reality is, things are somehow in between: all couples want to be financially secure, but also struggle with their individual wants, dry periods, differing values, imbalanced incomes and their desires to have their contributions be recognized and respected.

Here are some samples of financial situations that couples are going through:

  1. Having kids
  2. Inconsistent paychecks
  3. Medical issues
  4. Sudden purchases without the spouse’ knowing
  5. Loss of job
  6. Debts

 

In situations like these, it is very important for couples to have an agreement on how to manage their finances. What has worked when you were single may not necessarily work after getting married.

Since every situation is different and there is no one-fit-all solution, we have compiled different money management strategies that real couples have done. We hope you get to choose what is 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 yourself. You pay your own bills, have your own savings account. After getting married, your salary is now considered as one, there’s no “mine” and there’s no “yours”.

Reasons why this is good:

  1. It’s easier to see money in one place and see where it goes
  2. See if you still have money for a purchase, or if you are going further down in debt
  3. Manage day to day decisions without nagging at each other
  4. Easiest to manage

How to do this:

  • Open a joint account. Better to open it in a bank account where you can easily transfer money electronically.
  • When payday comes, transfer your money in the joint account.
  • All expenses will be paid from this account regardless of how much each person makes.
  • Of course, you can assign each other fun money as well to spend as you like

 

Method 2: Combine your budget for bills in one account then for the rest keep your separate bank accounts

In this method, you and your partner agree on how much each other will pay for the bills, then you total all the bills and combine the money on one account. You will then use that account to pay for the bills. You will have the separate cash to use however you want.

Reasons why this is good:

  1. You can still enjoy a portion of your own salary without neglecting bills
  2. Does not need a lot of adjustment from the days when you were handling your own finances
  3. 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 on the joint account come payday. Use that account to pay.
  • Each separate account will have their own funds to pay for personal stuff, like wanted things, savings and retirement plan
  • The rest of other expenses not billed can be split equally between the couple (unless the other agrees to pay it in full, or some other arrangement)

Note: Aside from the bills in the joint account, it can also be used to jointly fund savings or retirement.

 

This method is ideal for those who earn almost the same amount. For those who are not, the issue this method could bring is the “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 can pay larger bills.

 

Method 3: Spend equal amounts of bills right down the middle

In this method, all the bills are split equally and maintain your own accounts.

Reasons why this is good:

  1. Can be fair for both parties
  2. Easy to compute since everything is divided equally
  3. Great for those who receive the same pay

How to do this:

  • A joint account may or may not be needed for this, as long as you can both pay the bills electronically (if you opt not to pay in cash)
  • Deposit your share on 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 do to manage their money. You can choose either of the three and see what 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.

Also, below are additional tips which you can do as a team, whichever method you choose.

 

Money Saving Tips for Couples to Help Manage Finances

1. Start budgeting together.

This article has enough information on how to do budgeting, click here.

Note:

There are several ways on how you can implement the budget. Here’s a sample situation to illustrate:

“We have exhausted the budget on toiletries, does that mean I can’t buy tissues?”

You can either do the following:

  • Be strict. (Do not buy tissues and wait for next month. This works for a lot of couples)
  • Be flexible (Buy the tissues and get that budget from other items with excess, or buy the tissues and adjust the budget next month)

 

Both styles above can work, it depends on your preference. A budget doesn’t have to be set in stone as well, you can adjust as needed.

However for some couples, being strict in budget works better especially if they know they tend to abuse flexibility. They will wait until all the important items have been paid and they have enough cash to pay for the tissues.

If money is quite tight right now, you can follow the strict budget until you have enough means to be more flexible, thereby reducing stress.

Remember that doing budgets is a lot of trial and error. So don’t get stressed if you don’t get it right the first time.

 

2. Get a budget app

After creating the budget, use a budget app. There are a lot of budget apps you can use like Mint, Pocketsmith, Yodlee, ANZ Money Manager and the like. Allow your partner to have access as well so both of you can see your financial standing real time.

There are instances where one partner gets stressed when they see budgets (so just prefers to receive money to pay stuff), or one is not good 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 want to buy as well. Budget fun money for each other so each of you can buy what you want without questions. You can either give it to each other in cash or leave the budgeted amounts in your separate bank accounts.

Every month you can ask each other, “what do you want to get this month”? Then you can budget it out and leave them the “fun money” as long as it is something both of you have agreed on.

You can also give each other the same amount so it can be fairer for both of you.

 

So there are the top tips on how to save and manage money from couples who have done it ! We hope you have learned something from this and can take action to better monitor your debts and finances.

Please share with your friends to spread the knowledge!

 



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