Setting Financial Boundaries in Marriage

So many major decisions need to be made once you get married, and whether or not you will combine your finances should definitely be one of them. Married couples fall into one of three categories when it comes to financial co-mingling:

  • Joint accounts for bills and savings only
  • Joint accounts for bills, savings, and personal spending
  • Separate accounts for bills, savings and spending

Living with the decision to completely combine finances is not easy. It requires a strong financial plan that both parties can agree and stick to. It also requires an extreme amount of trust and financial intimacy between both parties. That means both of you need to agree to how money should be used, for things like spending and saving.

[Related: You’re Contributing To Your 401(K), Now What?]

You also have to create a system of checks and balances. Who is better at managing money?  Even if you are the better financial manager, it’s important to sit together when you do the bills and show your partner exactly what is going on. It may take more time than if you did it on your own, but it will help both of you stay on the same page.

Sometimes the best way to help your partner be better financially is by setting clear financial boundaries in marriage for yourself. Especially if you make more, it may seem easier to just pay for any financial flubs, but that can cause more harm than its worth. If allowed to become a habit this creates a system of enablement  which can snowball breeding resentment, breaking down communication, intimacy and eventually the entire marriage.

The #1 reason 50% of marriages end in divorce are typically financial. Kiss Your Money Fights Good-bye by setting clear financial boundaries to safeguard your marriage from financial ruin.

  • Decide on your mutually agreed upon values and set collective goals.
  • Set a date and time every month to review your bills and finances.
  • Checking in with each other regularly to make sure each of you are following your plan or can make adjustments if necessary.
  • Share information regarding all financial accounts (checking, savings, investments, and insurance) there should be no secrets on how much each person has. It’s a recipe for conflict.
  • Be comfortable saying No. When your partner has a financial flub because of poor choices or overspending don’t feel obligated to bail them out. Show them how to make adjustments over the next few pay periods to make up for their flub.

This approach will be much more beneficial and long lasting and it can be done without yelling, arguing or without telling them how irresponsible they are. The goal is to teach them to manage their money better even if that means you have to suffer through a few missed episodes of Scandal because the cable is off.