Unlike during your single years, your money management skills now affect more than just your future happiness. As part of a married unit, your money use or misuse affects your spouse and current or future children. To ensure that you don’t put the financial future of these loved ones in peril, it is vital that you dedicate yourself to developing good money management practices. By doing so, you can turn your new nest into a happy and financially healthy home.
Be open with your spouse about finances. If your lack of money management skills leads you to make poor money allocation decisions, you may be eager to hide this fact from your partner. However, doing so may irreparably harm your marriage. Instead of tucking your financial skeletons away in the closet, be honest and allow your partner to help you mend your wayward ways.
Set goals. Stopping yourself from spending money frivolously is easier if you know that you are trying to accomplish something through saving. Create goals for yourself to work towards. If you know that skipping that after work snack run could ultimately result in a trip to Hawaii, those chips and soda will likely be less tempting.
Build a budget. Instead of spending money willy-nilly, allow a budget to guide your spending. Sit down with your partner and build a detailed budget consisting of everything from your housing costs to your grocery expenses. This step is particularly important now that two people have control over the checkbook, as failure to communicate about spending could result in some end-of-month cash flow problems.
Make yourself accountable. As a married individual, you don’t just have yourself to answer to. If you know that your money management skills leave something to be desired, ask your partner to help you out. Your partner can help monitor your spending, ensuring that you don’t waste your hard earned cash and put a crack in your nest egg.
Limit your credit card usage. It is easy to rack up quite a bill if you use your credit card to excess. To avoid this end-of-the-month surprise, only use your credit card for large, planned purchases. Use cash for daily purchases as it is easier to see how much cash you have gone through than to determine how much you have charged on your plastic.
Reward yourself for good money management. While you shouldn’t buy yourself a big screen TV if you skip the concession stand at the movies, you can reward yourself in smaller ways. For example, you can buy you and your spouse a little something special or take a night out on the town each time you reach one of your savings goals.
Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.