Who should handle the finances in a marriage? Should my husband and I have separate checking accounts? Is it okay to hide a purchase from my spouse?
All these questions and more will be answered in today’s post: A Married Couple’s Guide to Handling Finances
A Married Couple’s Guide to Handling Finances
Whether you’re newly married or have been married for a long time, the issue of money is BOUND to come up and money fights are the second leading cause of divorce (behind infidelity), so it’s a major topic and something we definitely shouldn’t brush under the rug! So let’s get right to it!!
The first step in creating unity in your financial portfolio as a married couple is to determine what kind of spender you are…
What kind of spender are you?
It seems like in every marriage I see, there’s always one who is a spender and one who is a saver.
This can cause a lot of money management problems because one person is wanting to spend the money and the other just wants to put the money in the bank, but it doesn’t HAVE TO BE a bad thing!
You can work together on this! For example, if one is a spender and one is a saver, maybe you can make a compromise. The saver gets to allocate a certain amount of funds into the bank account from each paycheck. Maybe 50%-75%? Then, the spender can spend the money that is left over (25%-50%). That way, you BOTH win.
Then it’s just about WHAT to spend the money on. This is something you want to decide together. Keep in mind though that no matter what kind of spender your husband is, he IS the leader of the home.
So if he’s a spender, that could mean trouble because you want to honor and respect your husband, but he’s out there spending a bunch of money.
If that’s the case, make it a matter of prayer. You could start listening to financial sermons together (or by yourself if he doesn’t want to) and listen to what GOD says about money.
Basically it comes down to this: don’t stockpile. You don’t want to save up a ton of money and not enjoy life. At the same time, you don’t want to spend all your money and become homeless. It’s a balance, as with most things in life. It always comes down to being a balance.
Balancing spending and saving. Over time, you can work together too.
If one person loves to spend, work with them on saving more. If one person loves to save, show them how we need to enjoy life more, God is in control of our finances and if we work hard and do our part, He will provide. We cannot trust in our bank accounts. Those can go in an instant. But rather, we need to trust in God. Again, always a balance!
Talk it through, work it out, and always seek to glorify God and what HE wants for us, whether it be in our marriage, home life, or in any other arena.
Who should handle the finances in a marriage
Whoever is better at managing finances and you both agree on it. The husband is the leader in the home, but that doesn’t mean he does everything. It means he delegates.
If he wants to do the bills and handle all the finances himself, then that’s okay. But if he wants you to do it, you can do it. There’s really no right or wrong here, only that you agree on it and are specific in your roles.
For me in my life, I HATE doing the balancing, but I like taking care of the finances. So it could be also, that there’s a mix there. Maybe he’s delegated to you that you decide where the money goes each paycheck but that you have an overall idea you’ve agreed upon of how it should be split out, and maybe he does the actual balancing of the checkbook.
Let’s say your income is $3,000/month. Taxes take out about $300. So that leaves you with $2,700 left. Your bills all come to $2,500/month and you have $200/month left over.
What do you DO with that $200? What about raises, bonuses, extra income? How much “fun” money should each person have each month? (yes, each person SHOULD get fun money!)
What do you do with the money that YOU earn from working online? Where does THAT go?
Every six months, you want to sit down and decide where these things go. Should you pay on debt to get out of debt? Should you put it in savings? Take a vacation? Point is, you need to be working it through with your spouse.
Should my husband and I have separate checking accounts?
Again, there’s no right and wrong here either, however, I’d HIGHLY encourage couples combining finances to have ONE account. The reason is for accountability. I’ve seen some relationships where if they had a separate account (usually the guy), he starts going off and doing bad things that the wife didn’t know about. And it causes more problems.
So maybe if you DO have separate checking accounts, you BOTH have 100% access to each others accounts at all times and you should agree to check into the accounts at least once/month to keep each other accountable.
But again, I don’t encourage separate accounts because it can lead to a lot of problems. “Well, I am responsible for half the rent” and things like that. It separates you more and as a married couple, you are ONE in Christ. Any steps that you can take to be more in your oneness with each other, is steps you wanna take!
There are exceptions to the rule though. Maybe you resell on the side and have to keep the account separate for legal purposes. Perhaps you run a blog and have an LLC and are an S-Corp and have to have a separate account. Things for business like that are okay, for sure. Just make sure he has access to ALL the accounts.
For me, I have all my accounts (both personal and business) on one log in. So if I want to see personal checking, I can. If I want to see the business checking I can and Kyle can see all of that as well. There’s no hiding of it at all. With one log in, both are accessible and so it’s not a separate type of thing. If you have separate checkings, perhaps you can do that as well. You just want to make sure you both have access to everything at all times. That’s the main point there. 😊 Be sure to check your balances at least once/week to make sure you don’t bounce. Always stay on top of those numbers!
How often should we go over bills together?
A good rule of thumb is to go over and budget together every six months to have a good solid framework in which to work from (be sure to grab my Budgeting Money Binder here to plan). This is a general type of thing that you can go over and decide where things go and set up rules, like, if we have extra, this is where it goes, this is what we do with it, etc. and it’s important that you agree on it.
Take a look at your yearly goals when you do this. Make sure that you’re taking monthly steps toward reaching those yearly goals and fit them into your overall plan (see how to set up yearly goals in the next question).
Another good rule to set up is how much do you spend before asking the other person if it’s okay. This is a huge thing that REALLY helps both of you be on the same page.
If you know my story, you know that my ex-husband abandoned me and the kids and we ended up homeless. He had several affairs and a few kids by different women. He just went wild and crazy and it was a really tough time for us. But while we were married, we didn’t usually ever fight about money, which was nice. We had rules and systems in place. We knew what went where. He DID start another checking account and that’s when things got dicey (and why I say it’s not good to have separate checking). He started hiding bad things and opening credit in other people’s names (illegal activity) and it was a mess, for sure. But for our routine bills, outside of that sinful behavior he was doing toward the end of our marriage, we had a really good system for well over a decade.
For us, we set a limit of $30 at the time. We could spend up to $30 without asking the other person but if it was over $30, then we’d ask the other person. Make sure the money was in the bank account, make sure that it wouldn’t bounce anything, make sure they are okay with it, etc. You can choose whatever amount you want, but that one action will really streamline things and help!
Outside of that, how often you go over the bills is really up to you. Some couples like to be super involved and budget monthly together. Other couples just stick to the six month plan and that’s it. It really depends on your own dynamics in your marriage and how often you WANT to go over things. How quickly do things change in your finances. Major changes should always be discussed.
Should you set individual AND mutual financial goals? And who will keep track of the goals and progress?
I think that you’ll always have SOME individual goals but that the path you are taking and the place you are heading TOWARDS is a together thing. His goals should become your goals too and your goals should become his.
Examples of yearly goals to talk over and decide:
- Are you happy living where you live? Do you need a bigger or smaller home?
- Do you want to go back to college?
- How many hours a week do you think you can work?
- Should you, as the mom, work online to make extra money? What happens with that profits money that you make (be sure to set aside taxes on the money you make!)
- Will you donate any of your money regularly? Who will decide who to donate to and how much?
- Do you need to start saving now for big purchases (retirement, vacations, kids college, parents aging, etc.)
- How much insurance do you want each month for your family?
- How will you handle large purchases? Will you make purchases using forms of credit or save and pay cash?
- What’s your retirement plan look like?
- Should you have a will? How do you want to handle your estate? What happens in the event of death?
- Do you want to invest a certain portion of your money?
Is it okay to hide a purchase from my partner?
Just the fact that you’re asking this question shows that you feel guilt about it. Otherwise, you’d just do it, not seeking any advice at all. So I think honestly, that’s the answer right there. If you feel even a twinge, a hint of guilt, you shouldn’t do something, whatever it is.
Even if it’s a “good” thing; you shouldn’t do ANYTHING that causes you guilt. You don’t want to sear your conscience. You want to be super sensitive to the spirit in order to maintain a good relationship with God.
I feel like hiding purchases is not what you want to do. Have I done it? Sure. I’ve done that a couple times in my marriage before I was saved, but I always felt so bad about it, that I ended up telling him and it caused an even bigger mess. I had lost his trust in money and I worked really hard to earn that trust back: which I did!
All in all, I’d say, it’s NOT a good idea to hide a purchase. Again, it goes back to being ONE. You are ONE and hiding things and having secrets in not what you want to do. It can easily destroy a marriage.
How should I track our purchases?
As a former banker for a decade, tracking your purchases is EXTREMELY important. As a banker, one of THE most IMPORTANT things you can do is balance your checkbook to the penny.
It always used to annoy me SOOO much that my mom never balanced to the penny. She’d say, “Well, it’s okay, it’s just a few cents.” Over time, those “few cents” were a problem and I seen it with just about everyone I balanced their checkbooks for.
One day would come when they would inevitably bounce. They’d come to the credit union and ask what’s going on. Why did they bounce. Why were they charged these fees for bouncing. The very first question I’d ask…
Have you been balancing to the penny?
Nope. Why would I? They’d say.
Well…to avoid THIS! 😂
I promise you, if you’re not balancing to the penny, your books are all messed up and you WILL bounce. Eventually. After that, my mom listened to me, opened up a whole new account (you have to in order to start fresh), and balanced to the penny. She never bounced again!
It’s a costly error that so many make. It may seem like a waste of time to balance to the penny, but you have to. I balance to the penny and I’ve never once bounced! Not saying that it could never happen but that is the #1 quickest way TO bounce. So be sure to balance to the penny always!
Track both your purchases, both for you and your husband. Have him give you receipts (here’s what to do if he won’t) so that you can balance and track all your spending. This will help you know exactly where your money is at all times.
How will you decide where to invest, how much, and who will manage the investments?
You definitely want to assign someone to handle the investments. Probably the “saver” of the couple should be handling investments as they would naturally be better at it (but not always so). Either way, choose the person who has the financial skills to excel in this area. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses and we want to play toward our strengths.
As for the actual investing itself, I would START easy if you are a beginner. Look into your local credit unions and see what kind of savings accounts they have and what percentages they pay you for simply having the money in savings. Start there.
After you’ve been saving for a while, doing good with that, you can move to 6 month CD’s. Then, one year CD’s. If you’re doing well and able to handle that (meaning: not touching the money), then you can move into bigger investments.
What kind of investments are there?
There are a lot of investments you can make…
Maybe something like a rental property. That would be fun if you like it.
For me, I like to buy houses, fix them up, and then resell them and make a profit. It’s something I’ve done (very slowly) over the past couple of decades. I really ENJOY fixing a place up that I’m living in. So, I find a place that needs some TLC, buy low, live there and fix it up, then in a few years, sell it and profit. I’m not sure if I’ll do that with the place I’m in now but that is my intention and so I bought low and am fixing it up as I go. 😊
You could get stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Meeting with a local (trusted) financial advisor would be great if you’re thinking about those kinds of investments.
Retirement funds. The tax breaks on retirement funds are good and that could be a great way to capitalize on an investment. Talk to your local CPA about that option.
There are a lot of options out there, just do what is best for YOU!
How should I handle donations?
Donating is something that you definitely want to discuss and determine with your partner.
- How do they feel about this?
- What will you donate?
- Where will you donate it to?
You could come up with a list of companies that you would like to support, that you both agree on. For example, maybe you have a sister who’s tried to kill herself and so a national suicidal organization is very important to you. Maybe you want to donate to a company that helps the homeless or single moms. Perhaps your aunt had cancer and so you want to donate to a company that helps with the costs of those.
Whatever is on your and your husband’s hearts is definitely the first place to start. You could take that list of companies and when you have money (or time) to donate, you can donate it to that short list of companies equally. That will streamline things too.
But please keep in mind that there’s a lot of ways to donate, not JUST money. In fact, some of the ways people donate are way BETTER than money!
I had a lady email in and she wanted to contribute some guest posts to my blog. 12 of them. She wants to see the gospel furthered and knows that my blog reaches a lot of people. She donated her time and resources to create blog posts and they are being published on this site with her name as the credit.
Her doing that, helped me know that I’m not blogging in a vacuum all alone and that God is helping me. I NEED help to run this blog as well as the ministry blog. I can’t do it all by myself and her donation wasn’t money, it was time. It was something very useful to me, something very important to God, and something that further educates and helps others.
It was one of the best donations I’ve ever received to date and I’m so thankful that she did it. It’s amazing to see people’s hearts and their wanting to help spread the gospel.
You can donate in those ways. Maybe you don’t want to write a blog post, maybe you want to help work for an organization you believe in for free. Offering your time.
When I got out of the homeless shelter, I didn’t have a lot of money at all, not even enough to cover my own bills, but I was really still wanting to give back to God. So instead of giving a monthly amount (I was negative on my bills each month at that point, I didn’t HAVE anything to give; don’t go into debt to pay titles/offerings), so I went around town collecting yard sale left overs and curb alerts in order to collect items that the homeless shelter would need. Since living there, I knew exactly what they needed the most of and if I ever had a question, I’d simply call them up and say, “Hey, do you need this or that donated,” and they’d let me know.
Very quickly, that turned into a way I could sell some things that the homeless shelter didn’t need, and give the money as my tithes and offerings. After that, I started making even MORE and was actually able to make a business of it. I started reselling, still giving money to my local church and also donations to the homeless shelter and I was able to pay my bills. But I believe that happened because I genuinely sought to honor GOD first.
If your husband is, let’s say, NOT on board with donations for example, you could donate your time or do something like that to give. 😊 You want to honor him as your husband, but you don’t want to violate your own conscience either. So there’s always a way you can figure out how to honor him and still donate if that’s what you want to do.
What do you expect your retirement to look like, and how do you plan to make that a reality? Who will oversee the management of the retirement plan?
This will definitely look different for everyone, but I think it’s best to answer it showing you how I’ve retired, so that you can glean information from it to maybe make a plan for yourself. 🥰
Technically speaking, a couple years ago, I retired. I had enough money in the bank in order to retire and I said to myself, “I’m going to retire. Everything I do from here on out will be for FUN. I’m not going to work.”
At this time, I am still retired.
What does that look like?
For me, it means I get to do the things I WANT to do. What do I want to do? Serve you. Blog. Be used by God. Help others.
So while I still blog and I still do the things needed in order TO blog, it’s because I WANT TO. This is what retirement looks like for ME. I’m absolutely happy, absolutely doing what I want to do. Money is not an issue.
I tell you that, because I want you to see that retirement may not necessarily mean the END of you.
Think about it. What do you do when you retire? You do the things you want to do. You travel. You create printables. Whatever it is that you really LOVE to do and enjoy, you get to do it all the time without having to worry about money. And my friend, you can do that at ANY age. You can do that continuing to serve. You can stop it altogether. It will look different for everyone, so the first question to ask yourself is:
WHAT do YOU want YOUR retirement to look like?
When you and your spouse know exactly what YOU both want, the life that you want to create together, then you can start working toward that dream. What will you need to retire? How much will you need to retire? Where will your residual income come from? Will you still work a little? How much? How little? Ask yourselves things like that.
For me and Kyle, while I’m already retired, we want to one day, buy a house on land and have lots of trees and flowers and have acreage to grow food and all kinds of stuff. Just open land to do with what we want. He’s the one that came up with that dream. 😊 And I quickly fell in love with the idea too. I think it would be so cool!
So, while I wait for him to come, knowing his dream, I work towards it on my own. I buy a house I know we can profit from and get to the next level in finances that we need to, to get there.
Getting to your retirement dream isn’t all taken in one giant step. You have to make decisions along the way. Decisions that will take you closer to your dream. We make those decisions daily, and we head there in that direction together.
What steps can you both take now that will get you to your retirement dream? At what age do you want to retire? Mine came a lot EARLIER than I expected, by about 10 years. If you plan super well and make it your very fervent goal, you CAN get there and faster than you think.
As for who oversees it, who is better at goals amongst you? Whoever is better at crushing goals and planning should do it. For us, that’s me, and so I do it, and we are hitting our goals and it’s amazing!!!