Sometimes couples have trouble managing money because they struggle to make joint decisions. If you and your spouse are on different pages in terms of spending and saving priorities, frustration can build over time. In my 30+ years of being a financial planner, I often feel like a family therapist as well as an investment professional. Here are some tips I’ve gathered over the years to help couples reduce financial stress. 

Work With, Not Against, Each Other 

Couples who make decisions together are often more successful than couples who don’t see eye-to-eye and can’t figure out a way to bridge the distance. Long-term success is dependent on your ability to have a united vision and joint goals. When you’re following the same playbook, it is less tempting to focus on who earns or spends more. Making decisions together allows you to create new ideas and share each other’s points of view. Sometimes (particularly in second marriages) there may be a reason to separate some of the family’s finances, but generally speaking, if your lives are merged, your finances, and decision making should also be merged. 

Acknowledge the Differences 

How do couples get better at combined decision-making? First, recognize that your spouse may have different money values than you do. Depending on how you grew up, one may be more fiscally conservative or financially fearful than the other.

 Work together to build a plan that covers the basics (paying bills, creating an emergency fund, giving charity) as well as your long-term goals (retirement, vacations, gifting). The plan doesn’t have to be perfect, and it’ll likely change. What’s important is that you build and implement a plan together that incorporates your unified vision. 

 Remember, it’s not one spouse’s job to totally run your family’s finances. If one may be more adept at managing the day-to-day finances, that is fine. However, all big-picture decisions and goals should be made jointly. 

Strengthen Your Relationship 

Doing simple activities together, like grocery shopping, long walks, or quiet weekday dinners, builds trust between spouses and ultimately strengthens the relationship. 

 Some of my clients even have monthly financial date nights that focus on family budgeting and greater financial goals. Each month, they set time aside to review their spending, discuss concerns, and mark progress towards achieving their financial dreams. 

 If you find that you are struggling to make combined decisions, inviting a financial advisor to the discussion can help, especially when it comes to decisions about larger net-worth investment portfolios. If you think you might benefit from our family-centric approach to investing, let’s begin a discussion 02-624-2788. 

Douglas Goldstein, CFP®, GFP®, TEP®, is the director of Profile Investment Services, Ltd. He is a licensed both in the U.S. and Israel. Call (02) 624-2788 for help with your U.S. investment accounts. Securities offered through Portfolio Resources Group, Inc. Member FINRA, SIPC, MSRB, FSI. The opinions expressed are those of the author and not those of Portfolio Resources Group, Inc. or its affiliates. Neither PRG nor its affiliates give tax or legal advice.

Published March 14, 2024.

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