The following post is from Melissa Batai

What you see in your parents’ marriage, and in your family, deeply affects your own thoughts and actions.  You may not realize this when you’re single because those thoughts and actions are normal for you.  However, when you get married, you’ll inevitably find yourself disagreeing with your spouse because what he or she has grown up with and considers normal is completely different than what you’ve grown up with.  Your belief system is being challenged, and it’s not fun.  If you’re not careful, these differences can lead to rough patches in your marriage, especially when it comes to how you handle finances.

However, with time, you can meet in the middle when it comes to money decisions.  Here are some of the most important steps for learning how to share financial decision making:

The higher earning spouse doesn’t automatically control the money.  Some couples believe that if one spouse is earning more, he should be in charge of the finances.  That doesn’t have to be, and likely shouldn’t be, the case.  That spouse may not be better suited to the handling of money and may balk at the task.

Talk about how your parents handled their money.  What did you like or dislike about the way your parents handled money?  What would you like to do differently?  What would you like to do the same?  Luckily for my husband and I, I prefer to handle the money, and we both come from a background where our mothers handled the money on a day-to-day basis.  We had no disagreement here.  However, we did have disagreements about how to use the money as I come from a family where saving money never happened, and his family saved money religiously.

Agree on a limit for impulse buying.  Many experts recommend a limit for impulse purchases that you can buy without telling your spouse.  That may be as low as $25 or as much as $300 or more depending on your income, your financial situation, and your comfort level.

However, most people spend money little by little every day, so to manage the budget, it’s also equally important to agree on an amount to spend every week, such as no more than $75 a week for lunches out, extra treats at the gas station, etc.  These little expenditures can wreak havoc on the budget if they’re not limited, and they can also cause stress in your marriage.  According to, “46% of respondents” in a recent survey cite “frivolous purchases as the top cause of money fights.”

Discuss finances at designated intervals.  Even if one partner is solely responsible for managing the money, the other partner should know the basics of the couple’s financial situation.  If the non-money partner looks at expenditures and income each month, that creates accountability for both partners.  In addition, partners should agree on investing, saving, spending, and other money goals so that they’re on the same page financially.

Merging two different money styles can be challenging, but taking the time to establish financial goals together, set limits and share the budgeting responsibilities can make money discussions much easier.

Do you and your spouse have different financial styles?  If so, how did you find ways to agree on your financial goals and spending?

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