Sharing the Finances Equally
Divorce lawyers and marriage counsellors say that one of the biggest reasons that couples argue is disagreements about money and differing views about fair ways to handle finances. From the moment that two people open their first joint back account, they have to explain their spending to another person who may or may not have a similar attitude about money.
Communicating About Finances with your SpouseBefore two people reach the point of walking down the aisle together, they should have a clear understanding about how they plan to manage their finances. Most people have distinct ideas about the proper way to handle money and when spenders marry savers, a certain level of disagreement is bound to crop up. In the case of a second marriage, both spouses are likely to have a well established financial history and need to be honest with the other about any debts that they may have accumulated.
Yours, Mine, and OursWhen marrying after having spent a number of years handling one’s own finances, it can be difficult to consider that another person will now have input as to how to manage money. Additionally, when children are involved, each spouse may feel the need to protect at least some of their assets in order to provide for their children, should the marriage fail.
While some married couples are content to pool their finances, others feel more comfortable having some money that is their own. For these couples, having at least three bank accounts can help them to maintain a level of financial independence while contributing to their joined household. Individual accounts for each spouse, along with a joint bank account that is used to pay regular bills may be a solution that makes everyone happy.
Sharing the Financial BurdenWhen both spouses are employed, it is only fair that each makes a regular contribution to the family finances. In terms of bill paying, though, equal is not always the most fair. Typically, spouses do not bring home the exact same amount of money, and if there is a fairly substantial difference in the earning capacity of spouses, one is certainly going to make a greater financial contribution than the other.
Additionally, each partner is likely to have come into the marriage with existing financial obligations which still require a portion of that spouse's income. Just as a new marriage requires a bit of adjustment in terms of getting comfortable with one another’s everyday habits, each partner must give themselves some time to grow accustomed to their spouse’s unique attitudes about finances. Money worries can be very real, but disagreements about finances are not worth ruining a loving relationship.
Responsible Budgeting for StepfamiliesBlended families have a number of factors to consider when designing a budget that is fair to everyone. The needs of all of the children must be taken into account, and since it is vital for family harmony that all children in the household be treated equally, the spouse with the more impressive income must be prepared to shoulder a greater percentage of the overall bills, even if some of the expenses are directly related to the care of their stepchildren.
Ideally, each spouse would be in the position to contribute enough to the family budget so that all shared obligations (rent or mortgage, utilities, etc.) could be divided equally, while those that benefit only one spouse (car payment, individual credit card payments, etc.) would be the responsibility of the person who incurred that debt. In families, though, such businesslike thinking doesn’t usually work out well and each spouse should be willing to do all that they can to see that the family’s finances are sound.