Finances are the leading cause of divorce. In one recent Citibank survey 57% of divorced couples said money caused the most friction, with poor communication around finances, struggles about who controls the budgets and reckless spending proving particularly toxic. In fact, when we asked people to share their biggest financial regret, marriage lead the way, with a number of our readers lamenting their expensive exes…
Looking at this, you could be thinking that you’re doomed before you’ve barely begun - but conversely there’s a lot you can take from others’ errors. Here’s 4 money mistakes to avoid as newlyweds…
You’re not on the same page
Essential to any successful marriage is sharing similar priorities, be that buying a property, raising a family or perhaps even travelling the world. For most couples, achieving these aspirations will take financial dedication, and if one of you isn’t pulling your weight then it’s likely to cause resentment.
How to fix it
It’s time to get in the sheets (balance sheets, that is…). Agree to your most pressing priorities and work back from those, building saving and spending plans off the back of your discussions. Honesty really is the best policy, as without that you’re always going to encounter issues. From day one of your nuptials make sure you share similar goals for your money.
You’re bickering about bills
Anyone who’s ever lived in shared accommodation will appreciate the acrimony bills can cause. When you’re not bickering about the heating you’re bickering about the water, and when you’re not bickering about the water you’re bickering about the electricity. Disputes like this can take a toll on relationships, and they’re certainly not the arguments you want to be having as newlyweds.
How to fix it
Chances are you’re one household now. So, if you’re both under the same roof and sharing everything that comes with it, why not share the bills too? Create a joint account for shared expenses so that there’s no arguments about who gets stuck with a specific bill. Write out a budget for your expenses, dump all your money into a joint account, and put whatever is left over towards your shared priorities - or even individual treats.
You’ve not got any spending rules in place
Everyone loves a splurge, but they’re not the healthiest way to manage your money… especially when you’re newly married. Reckless spending can cause big disputes when the costs come home to roost, so it can be wise to limit them (within reason).
How to fix things
We get every couple is different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all set of rules. Instead try to find agreed answers to the following questions:
- How much money can one spouse spend, without conferring with the other?
- Does there need to be a discussion before one spouse takes out a credit card or loan?
- Should there be a plan for how you spend bonuses or other windfalls?
- If you have kids, how much pocket money should they receive? Our article can actually help you here… 🙂
Having some loose rules around these topics can help avoid disputes, so try to sit down and make sure you’re on the same page. It might be contentious at first, but you should be thankful later on.
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You’re not tackling debt as a team
Debt can be another flashpoint for married couples, so it can be smart to get a handle on any outstanding loans or cards from the outset. Legally, you’re not responsible for paying off the debt that your spouse accrued before your vows, but equally, it’s not exactly healthy to have a big disparity between your bills.
How to fix things
Be upfront and honest to each other about what you owe, then find a way to confront your debt that works best for both sides. It’s in your best interests to pay down debt as quickly as possible, as left to grow it can really hamper your future plans. Don’t hide any debt problems either, as this sort of deception can damage relationships.
Are you newly married? How do you manage your money? Tell us in the comments section!