6 Tips for Sharing Financial Info With Your Spouse
Don't let financial surprises derail your happy union. Follow these six tips.
Are you and you spouse aware of one another's finances? Surveys show it is a big issue for couples. It’s important for couples to discuss finances at the earliest possible time in their relationship and to communicate frequently. Couples should also make sure they agree when it comes to financial practices such as budgeting and how to utilize credit throughout the marriage. Individually, each partner should make sure to be engaged with the household finances so they can protect themselves and their assets if nothing else can be done and the relationship ends.
Here are six:
1. Have an open and honest discussion. Make sure your spouse understands your financial goals as well as your spending habits and any of your financial "flaws." These flaws could be something as simple as charging personal items that aren't in the budget. Being open will help there be fewer surprises down the line.
2. You must understand that everyone handles money differently. Be willing to compromise. There is a lot of emotion and psychology that can be associated with money. Respect your spouse's money background—or lack thereof.
3. Set specific financial goals with your spouse. Whether it’s buying a house or even taking a big vacation, working toward a common goal together can help you align financially, especially when it comes to spending. Moreover, setting goals and going after them has also been noted by researchers to be a sign of a strong relationship.
4. Set a spending limit. This should be the amount of money each of you can spend without consulting with your spouse. There are apps you can use to keep track of your spending or you can take out cash each month (or paycheck). There is no right number for this budget, but you should both be able to spend it without guilt or consultation.
5. Initiate "Finance Fridays" with your spouse. Set aside time one Friday each month to check your bank accounts and credit cards, as well as your credit score and report—together. Useful products for couples are the ones that provide access to credit scores and reports, as well as credit monitoring services, so you can keep an eye on your joint finances. Getting your credit score is free and your credit card company or bank will likely offer this information to you. For more information on getting your credit score for free, click here.
6. Education is key when it comes to improving your finances. Couples should work to become better at credit and finances together. Easy ways to do this are to read articles (like this one); seek out financial podcasts; read books; and talk with a financial advisor.
Rod Griffin is Director of Public Education for Experian. He speaks regularly at regional and national financial literacy events and supports various national consumer education initiatives including the LifeSmarts Consumer Knowledge Competition, for which he serves on the Corporate Advisory Board, and the Jumpstart Coalition for Financial Literacy. In a national survey, Experian explored whether finances play a role in divorce and how divorce affects consumers’ financial health in the aftermath. You can read more about those results here. For more information please visit The Experian Education Blog for more resources for couples who want to learn the basics. Experian.com/education.