Marriage and Money: How to Work with Your Spouse

Quote_financet source of friction in many American households.

How to Work with Your Partner on a Plan to Spend Less and Save More:

  • Set up a budget together. If you pull out a piece of paper and tell your spouse to live by these rules, you’ll probably get ignored, or worse. If you both sit down together and work out an itemized list of monthly expenses and group them into necessities and indulgences, then go over those numbers together, you’ll have a better chance of success. Figure out a plan you both can deal with. If you can’t live without a daily latte while your partner simply has to have the latest video game every week, come up with a compromise. You agree to coffee drinks every other day while your spouse rents instead of buying the latest games.
  • Come up with a long-term goal. Whether it’s a dream vacation, a new home or starting a business, if you both are in it together, your shared vision will become contagious. You’ll cheer each other on when you reach your financial goals, and commiserate together when things didn’t go your way. With a support system in place, the ultimate goal becomes clearer and more achievable.
  • Keep a visible chart on the door or refrigerator. List your target goals, and the expenses you both have agreed to cut back on. Put realistic numbers in bright colors to remind you where you want to be by the end of the month. Say your goal is to spend 25 percent less on groceries this month. At the end of the month, put a giant star next to that item if you’ve reached your target. It might seem childish now, but you’ll be surprised by how much a visual reminder can make a difference.
  • Reward yourselves with each accomplishment. If your goal was to pay off one credit card every six months, go out and celebrate after you reach each milestone. Don’t blow all your savings, but an economical dinner out or another special treat will provide motivation and keep both of you focused on the future. While you’re eating, don’t forget to discuss your plan and why it’s so important to stick with your financial goals together.