It’s more than possible to ensure a healthy financial relationship so that your finances don’t become an issue in your marriage.
Marriage and money go hand in hand. We spoke to financial experts to share their tips for a healthy financial relationship. To achieve a healthy financial relationship, you need constant communication about money and advice for laying the groundwork for achieving your financial goals together.
Leave Judgment at the Door
As you prepare to have conversations about money with your significant other, remember that it’s a touchy topic for most people. “When discussing finances with your partner, listen to understand, lead with empathy and approach obstacles as a team. Creating a safe space will encourage you both to remain open and stay present,” says Chloé A. Moore, CFP®, founder of Financial Staples.
You should also remember that your reactions to information your significant other shares are powerful. Be conscious of how they can affect your partner emotionally. “There needs to be a ‘no judgment’ zone,” says James Brewer, MBA, CFP®, AIF®, CRPC®, PPC®, CDFATM, CFSLA, founder and CEO of Envision Wealth Planning Inc.
Make Your Conversations Comprehensive
Brewer says it’s ideal to talk about finances before marriage. But if you didn’t, it’s vital to set aside time now that you are married to do so. A great starting point, says Moore, is your money history and explaining to your partner all the factors that have contributed to you making certain financial decisions throughout your life.
To further kick-start your initial conversations about money, consider asking these four questions.
Don’t Forget About the Nitty-Gritty
It’s important to hash out what you think day-to-day management of money should look like. Some examples from Brewer of details to discuss include whether you like to follow a budget and what you prefer to do with extra cash on hand or money that you receive unexpectedly.
You should also discuss your saving and spending habits, advises Moore. Additionally, she says, “I recommend discussing how you will split financial roles and responsibilities and how you will resolve disagreements.”
And while one person may choose to handle certain aspects of your finances, such as overseeing the budget or filing taxes, Brewer stresses the importance of making sure there is always full transparency among both partners, especially when it comes to income and assets.
Consider Turning to the Professionals
As you’ve probably uncovered through your initial conversations with your partner, there is a lot to think about regarding finances and marriage. Understanding your partner’s financial situation and ideas for money management can be just the beginning.
Turning to professionals for advice can help ensure that you don’t overlook important considerations and financial opportunities as you think about what your financial situation together looks like now and what you want it to look like in the future.
Here are some experts you may want to consult and items you might want to discuss, according to Brewer and Moore.
Tax Accountant: You can talk to a tax accountant about the pros and cons of filing your taxes together or separately and more.
Attorney: You can turn to an attorney to discuss prenuptial agreements and an estate plan, which includes wills or trusts, powers of attorney, and advance directives.
Certified Financial Planner: Working with a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), such as one who is a member of the Association of African American Financial Advisors (AAAA), can help you and your spouse create an action plan for managing and growing your wealth, no matter how much or how little you have. “There are only about 1,600 Black Certified Financial Planners in the United States. That means that they’ve passed a very rigorous bar exam, several qualifying exams and have three years of experience helping people develop and implement financial plans. A couple’s financial future is very important. Often people doing it on their own find themselves in financial difficulty that can lead to divorce. As a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, I much prefer to see people coming to me on the same page, where I can use my certified financial planning instead,” says Brewer.
Financial Therapist: “If either spouse has deeply rooted money issues or feels stuck when it comes to communicating and taking action, a financial therapist can also provide guidance,” says Moore. “The Financial Therapy Association is a great resource.”
Workplace Benefits Coordinator: You may want to review your employee benefits and update your selections based on your new marital status.
Think About Lifestyle
As you and your partner continue to contemplate your financial future, be clear about the kind of lifestyle you want to maintain and achieve. “If both want to save toward their future or they want to spend now, knowing that about the other is key,” says Brewer. “While I believe that they should both be investing for their future, that may not be their mutual idea of marital bliss. Ultimately, being on the same financial expectations page is the key.”
Though not always easy to do, applying the tips above can help you and your partner effectively communicate about finances, achieve goals together and make the topic a nonissue in your marriage.