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Real Life On A Budget

7 Ways to Get on the Same Page About Money

Are you a soon-to-be newlywed?

That’s awesome. Congratulations! But have you thought about what life will look like after you get married?

It’s easy to get so caught up in being engaged, booking your honeymoon, and planning for the big day that you forget all about life on the other side. But today, I want you to stop for a minute, take a breath, and think about this important topic: money and marriage.

One of the quickest ways to put a strain on your new marriage is to not be on the same page with your spouse about money. It doesn’t matter whether you earn $10,000 or $1 million. If you and your spouse aren’t seeing eye to eye on handling your money, you will eventually have problems. I don’t say that as a scare tactic, but I do want to remind you that you can’t avoid this topic.

To really win in your finances and your marriage, you have to be on the same page.

So when you return from your honeymoon and embark on that first year of marriage, what can you do to make sure you handle money the right way?

1. Communicate.

Talk about your money goals with your spouse. Where do you want to be financially in a month? Next year? Five years? Talk about your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to spending and saving money. Set an amount—say, $100—and agree that all purchases above that amount need to be talked about and agreed upon.

Communication in marriage is extremely important. To really win in your finances and your marriage, you have to be on the same page.

2. Make a budget.

The budget gets a bad rap, but all the budget does is tell your money where to go each month so you aren’t left wondering where it went. It isn’t rocket science. You’re simply sitting down with your spouse and deciding how you will spend your income that month. Give every dollar a name. It will take a few months to get this down, so don’t expect perfection right away. Give yourself a little room to make mistakes and figure this budgeting thing out.

3. Make a plan.

The first step toward improving your money situation in the long run is getting out of debt. It’s hard to save and make a difference with your income when half of it is going toward car loans, student loans and credit cards every month.

To get out of debt, you need to make a plan. We call it the debt snowball. Simply list all of your debts from smallest to largest. Pay the minimum on all the bills but the smallest one, and attack that one with every bit of extra money you have. Once you pay that bill off, add your old payment to what you’re paying on the next bill on the list. Rinse and repeat until you are debt-free!

4. Combine bank accounts.

Many people go into marriage thinking, That’s your money, and this is my money. They draw a line in the sand. But remember what your pastor said when you got married: “Now, you are ONE.” Think of it as our money, not my money.

So, once you get married, go to the bank and combine your checking accounts. This is another way to improve your communication and stay on the same page about your money.

You’re both unique! Embrace those differences!

5. Recognize your differences.

In most marriages, there is a partier and a planner. Generally, the partier is the spender who’s not so crazy about details and making a plan. And the planner is the saver—the one who loves to run the numbers and create lists of goals and priorities. Sometimes the partier might be the saver and the planner might be the spender, but the idea is that you’re both unique.

You both need each other. The partier helps the planner lighten up every now and then. And the planner helps the partier learn to focus and make a plan. Embrace those differences!

6. Don’t buy a house . . . yet.

Telling a newly married couple not to buy a house isn’t popular advice. After all, we’ve all watched Fixer Upper and dreamed of when it would be our turn to find the perfect place. But it’s okay to rent during the first year. You want to make sure both you and your spouse are exactly where you want to be for a while and you both have a good idea of what you are looking for.

Get settled in. Enjoy being married without a mortgage payment and all the maintenance headaches. This time next year, as long as you are out of debt and have at least a 10% down payment, house hunt to your heart’s content.

7. Don’t copy your parents’ lifestyle.

Here’s what I mean by that: Most of us want to live the same lifestyle we did with our parents. But the difference is that it took them 20 years to get there, and we’re just getting started. One of the worst mistakes you can make is to overstretch yourself by getting into a mortgage you can’t afford and taking out a couple of car loans that will weigh you down.

The white picket fence can wait.

The BMW and the white picket fence can wait. Be patient. Make smart decisions with your money. Avoid debt and save, save, save. You’ll get there soon enough, but you’re setting yourself up to fail when you try to live your parents’ lifestyle without the money to do so.

When I got married seven years ago, my husband and I decided to live out these principles, and it’s a decision we don’t regret. Trust me, how you manage your money will be one of the most important factors in determining the quality of your marriage.

Don’t get so caught up in the romance that you forget the practical stuff. Take the time to sit down with your future spouse and talk about money issues.

By discussing these issues now, you’ll set yourself up for an amazing first year of marriage!

For more great info about money and relationships, be sure to tune in to The Rachel Cruze Show, airing live on Facebook and YouTube on May 18! Sign up for my newsletter to be the first to hear more about my show and get exciting updates each month!

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  • Great tips! Still learning on giving every dollar a name.

  • Pouta

    agree with everything except # 4n– make 3 accounts: yours, mine, ours

    • Shanna Venal

      Resentment that the spouse making more money is keeping money from the other spouse or resentment that the spouse making more money is sharing it with the spouse who makes less money?nnnTo me, it makes more sense to share the account and both parties decide where they want their money to go. I think there will be more resentment when you DON’T pool your money together. What if one spouse decides to stay at home? Does that spouse get punished for not making an income?

      • Pouta

        if the stay-at-home spouse has home-making duties, that counts for alot.nnI’m really surprised at how many people disagree with me on this, here on this thread.nndo you all live in a fairy tale ?nnamongst my successful peers who are (or are about to be) married, having 3 accounts, as I described, is a GIVEN — to suggest otherwise would result in stares of shock 🙂

        • Shanna Venal

          hmm that is interesting when you are successful before marriage perhaps it creates an instinct to keep that money separate? My husband and I were at the beginning of our careers when we married, but together both our careers have grown and we are nearing the 200k range. We still share all our income in one account. I couldn’t imagine splitting it out honestly.

    • hotrodguitarist

      There is absolutely no reason for separate accounts. Income is the families not his or hers. If they all go into the same account there shouldn’t be any resentment, but if they go into separate accounts there would bebecauseone would have more money than the other. 3 accounts doesn’t do anything but hurt the relationship.

      • Pouta

        Rachel’s comment # 2 is Make A Budget — that’s what the “our” account is for : both people arrive at a set amount that each will put into the pot, for things like remodeling, furniture, etc.nnmy guess is that alot of the people disagreeing with me on this topic are either single or newlyweds.nntime & experience will show you that what I’m saying is painfully true.

    • Wes

      Wow… sure hope my marriage doesn’t involve resentment over money. That’s a shockingly petty emotion to have toward a spouse.

      • Shanna Venal

        I agree with Wes. Dave Ramsey makes a LOT more money than his spouse, but he shares everything with her without resentment.

      • Pouta

        I said IF one makes alot more than the other.nnfor the doubters out there, poll some divorced people — money is the # 1 reason for splits.

    • Beth Jorgensen Sparrow

      My parents had 2 accounts with both names on both accounts. After a few months they would trade checkbooks because Mom spent more money than Dad so they’d try to keep them even. My husband and I have 1 checking account. I think it’s whatever works and whatever the couple agrees on.

  • Beth Jorgensen Sparrow

    I agree with all except #6. I think #6 depends on your age and maturity in life rather than being married. I bought a house when I was single; real estate was a good investment and I thought I was going to be there a while (which I was). I got married in my 30’s and was pretty sure we were going to be here for a while (and we still are). I don’t think you can tell people in their 50’s or 60’s not to buy a house if they’re getting married. However people in college probably aren’t ready for a house. #6 seems to assume all people getting married are college-age-ish and they’re not anymore.

    • Wes

      I think the main point she is making is that it depends on having the money for a down payment, no debt, and an agreement on what you want to have as a house and where you want it to be located. Age is irrelevant to the Ramsey/Cruze plan… DEBT is the common denominator. So regardless of age, if you’re not meeting those three points you might be better off renting. nnI think the point is that it flies in the face of conventional wisdom regardless of your age.

      • Beth Jorgensen Sparrow

        Yes I agree, lack of debt and having the down payment is most important. I don’t think marriage has anything to do with buying a house, and that was my point. Single people can own houses, too.

  • lindenheart

    My husband and I seriously sat down within hours of coming back from our honeymoon in Hawaii and wrote our first budget together, jet lag and all. Two and a half years later, we still sit down every month to do our budget. Working on our finances together has helped us work through other areas of our life together and brought us closer by giving us a shared dream for the future. I know when we got married I thought there was no way I could ever love him more, but just last week as we worked through an unforeseen financial hiccup, I realized that I had only scratched the surface back then.

  • kboswell

    So…n funny story… kinda….. when my husband and I first got married, we set the nfirst rule in this article… anything over 25 dollars needs to be ndiscussed (yes, 25….we were poor, dont judge)…. so great, excellent,n we’re on the same page….. and then he checks the bank account, and nits like 100 bucks less than what he thought…. so we talk, and I go “In followed the rules”…. turns out, I MIGHT have interpreted that at nface value, as in “but I never spent less than 25 bucks”… and he ninterpreted it a LITTLE bit different, as in “yes, but you spent 20 at 5n stores!”… haha…. whoopsy daisy! Marriage is fun!nnAnywho, good article. I guess my only caveat is not to make the whole marriage about money. When we were going through some hard financial times about a year into our marriage, it was as if money was ALL we spoke about. Looking back, I realize I wasn’t exaggerating. We never spoke about our days at work, or what’s going on with our family’s, etc etc. We stopped dreaming about the future, too weighed down by the financial issues we were dealing with. It took a while after that passed for us to relax a bit and stop stressing about the budget constantly. nnThis basically taught us that while money is DEFINITELY important, and issues need to be addressed and discussed, it’s not all our marriage is. Sometimes, we need to stop, and just talk about something not related at all! We now spend part of our time talking about the future, and another part planning the financial side of that future.