The ‘mine’ part is easy. The ‘yours’ part, not so much. When two become one, does everything become ‘ours’? Whew…that’s a loaded question. To which, we will explore the answer.
Studies show money to be one of the top causes of conflict in marriage. Ideally, money and the issues thereof have been discussed prior to the formal union. However, reality usually paints another picture – one in which couples often think everything will ‘magically’ workout. Thus, mistake number one.
To help navigate the waters of consolidation, consider these points:
- Conflict happens where there is no clarity. Have a conversation that clearly outlines your thoughts and ideas about how the money should be handled. Think, talk and act like the adults you are. Clarify your thoughts, wishes and dreams. Create both your couple and individual lists. Perhaps financial issues stress you out or make you afraid. Be open about how you feel.
- Things do not work out unless you work them out. Nothing gets done ‘magically’. You and your love may not agree on everything but an essential component of sharing your life is to work it out! It takes a plan to work through the difficulties associated with how to merge finances and make it work. Remember, two heads are better than one…however, when the two are on opposite ends of the spectrum, it is wise to seek counsel on issues not easily resolved.
- Dealing with money issue requires information. Know what you have coming IN and going OUT. List all income, payments, and account balances. Assign each pay period with bills that are due. Some find it beneficial to divide the bills, if there are two incomes. He pays A, B, and C. She pays X, Y and Z. Be sure to divide the bills according to income level if one makes more than the other.
- Marriage is about supporting, enhancing, combining and sharing. However, the combined unit does not mean there cannot be separate accounts. It may be wise to have my account, your account and our account. While having discretionary money for gifts and other treats for your love is a good idea, be sure you are not secretive about your account balances. Trust is a foundational must to have a successful marriage.
- Keep the lines of communication open. If the plan isn’t working how you planned, rethink your method and adjust accordingly. Your budget and financial plan is a working document and will change as incomes increase, homes are bought, children are born, and other life events.
By nature, we tend to lean toward a whole lot of mine and a little bit of yours (maybe). Moving into the marriage arena should cause pause for the good of the union. Love is patient and kind. Love works out differences with grace. Love is quick to listen and slow to speak. Love forgives and moves on. Remember, love will carry you… always.