When you get married, you merge two lives and two lifestyles. All might be roses when it comes to money when you're in the dating phase. But a lot of couples -- more than 90 percent, according to Mint.com -- argue about money and budgeting once they get married. More than one-third of married couples point to money as a major source of marital trouble. Most budgeting problems for newlyweds boil down to a lack of openness and communication.
Different Money Habits
Each person has different habits when it comes to spending and saving. You might be a saver while your spouse might enjoy the occasional or even frequent splurge. Combining two disparate approaches to money into one budget can seem impossible at first. But the key is to learn to compromise. Perhaps you and your spouse can save to splurge every now and then by setting aside a certain amount to use to purchase a shiny new appliance or go out to an expensive restaurant.
The "honey, here's my credit card debt" scene might be the stuff of sitcom gold, but it's far less funny when it happens in real life. Before you get married, let the other person know of any and all debt you have. Together, you can make a plan to pay it off over time. While you will work together to pay off any debts you have individually, Erin Burt of "Kiplinger" strongly advises not officially attaching your name to your spouse's pre-existing debt. Don't put your name on his credit card, for example. Instead, start fresh and open a joint credit card account.
Deciding who pays for what, especially if one person makes more than the other, can be tricky in the early stages of a marriage. The person who earns less might feel resentful that he is expected to contribute equally financially, even though his income doesn't match. One way to balance unequal incomes with little argument is to divide expenses based on the percentage of income each person earns, suggests Liz Weston of MSN. For example, if you earn 65 percent of the household income, pay for 65 percent of the household expenses. Your partner can pay for the remaining 35 percent. Open a joint bank account into which you each contribute your share.
Marriage isn't just about the here and now, but also the future. Planning for the future, including for potential emergencies, should be part of your budgeting when you get married. Failing to set up or contribute to an emergency fund for the both of you can spell trouble down the road. Your budget should make way for the future, such as moving to a bigger house, having children or not and eventually retirement. Share your goals with each other so that you know what to expect.
Based in Pennsylvania, Emily Weller has been writing professionally since 2007, when she began writing theater reviews Off-Off Broadway productions. Since then, she has written for TheNest, ModernMom and Rhode Island Home and Design magazine, among others. Weller attended CUNY/Brooklyn college and Temple University.