How to Establish the Most Important Marriage Expectations: Finances (Part V)

Marital Expectations: Finances

We’re on the last leg of our five-part series: How to Establish the Most Important Marriage Expectations. This week we’re discussing our final topic, finances. Take a look back at the last five weeks and check out parts I-IV here.

Expectation #5: Finances

Before I met Drew I thought I was decent with money, but I quickly found out that I had been lying to myself. I was actually kinda crappy with money…if I’m being honest. With Drew’s help, I was able to create a budget and pay off two credit cards while we were dating. However, I still had over $50,000 in student loans and other debt to pay off when we got married. Drew, on the other hand, had worked his way through college with the help of scholarships and was a major saver. Talk about night and day. So before we married we had many, many discussions on how we were going to deal with our finances.

No matter how you all decide to go about your finances, it’s imperative that you both are on the same page and in agreement. Main points to be discussed when talking money are banking, budget, and goals.

Banking

I encourage you both to talk about your current financial situations as singles, and what you both expect for your finances to look like together. If you all bank with two different financial institutions will someone switch to the other? Will you both keep separate personal bank accounts and create a new joint account? How much will you each contribute to the household for bills and such?  There is a lot to discuss when financials are involved. The important thing is to be willing to compromise and remember nothing is set in stone. If you all try something and hate it, that’s ok. Figure out what works for you both and be patient with each other.

Secret purchases and accounts, outside of gifts, can lead to mistrust and other issues in your marriage. Click To Tweet

Once we were engaged, Andrew and I agreed that we would combine our finances and bank together. However, I know that’s not for everyone. I personally encourage you all to remain as transparent as possible when it comes to money. Regardless of who is the breadwinner, you both should know roughly how much money is coming in. And if you all keep separate personal accounts, all accounts should be accessible to you both. Secret purchases and accounts, outside of gifts, can lead to mistrust and other issues in your marriage. Once you all have an idea of how you’re going to store your money, then take some time to talk about money management.

Budgets

A good place to start with the budget is deciding who will be responsible for managing it. If one of you is more gifted when it comes to finance it may be best for that person to lead in this area. I think finances are one of those areas that “too many cooks in the kitchen” can be a bad thing.  If you’re both responsible for the financials, but not communicating effectively bills can be paid twice, or not at all. So just be mindful if you are both managing the budget to have a clear way of communicating who does what, when and how. And as previously mentioned above, you both should have access to all accounts, at all times. There is no “yours” and “mine”, everything is ours once you’re married.

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Once it’s decided who will be responsible for your budget, take some time to evaluate what your new budget will look like on a monthly and annual basis. A good place to start is to review your individual monthly budgets. If you all don’t have budgets already, look at a few of your monthly bank statements. The important thing is to determine where your money goes every month. Once that’s known, begin combining you all’s expenses to create your new family budget. A balanced budget should consist of all income and expenses. And don’t forget to set general expectations for holidays, vacations, and other infrequent large purchases (ie. furniture, anniversaries, etc.). Check out my example budget below for inspiration.

Before you all finalize your budget these three questions should be answered:

  • How much will we spend?
  • How much will we save?
  • How much will we tithe/give away? Luke 6:38

It’s also important to agree upon a max dollar amount you all can spend without speaking with each other. For example, the Smith’s have agreed that any purchase costing $100 or more must be discussed and agreed upon by both parties. Anything less than $100 is fair game. Set a limit and stick to it, no matter how big or small. This builds trust and should keep unwelcome surprises few and far between.

Once you and your significant other have discussed banking and budgets, talk about your financial goals for now and the future. For more on tithing and its importance click here.

Example Budget
Monthly Income Dollar Amount/Month
Salary $7,000.00
Monthly Fixed Expenses Dollar Amount/Month
Tithing $700.00
Rent $1300.00
Car Note $300.00
Car Insurance $100.00
Cell Phones $100.00
Internet $50.00
Student Loans $400.00
Electricity < $60.00
Monthly Controllable Expenses Max Dollar Amount/Month
Food/Necessities $350.00
Spending Money (Dates) $200.00
Spending Money (Husband) $300.00
Spending Money (Wife) $300.00
Monthly Saving Capacity: $2840.00
Annual Saving Capacity: $34,080.00

 

Goals

What are your financial goals? This is a great discussion to have, especially since everyone has different priorities before getting married. Your current goals prior to marriage will probably look a little different once you tie the knot. What is important to you financially, surprisingly may not be important to your mate and vice versa. Some good goals to discuss might look like this:

  • When will we pay your car off?
  • How much will we put away per month for a down-payment on our first home?
  • How much money will we invest in the stock market?
  • How fast will we pay off my student loans?
  • How much will we put away to go on our honeymoon or vacation?
  • How much money will we keep liquid in our savings account as an emergency fund?
  • How much will we set aside for retirement?
  • When will we start saving for our children’s college tuition?

These are questions, along with many others, are important to talk about with your future spouse. However, not all of them may apply to your financial situation. Whether you all are middle-class, wealthy, or struggling to make ends meet it’s essential to discuss how you all want to spend your money in the future. Or you’ll be having some “strong discussions” about it later.

For the Love of Money

Money isn’t everything, but it’s definitely important. God calls us to be good stewards of our resources, and that includes money. “For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen” Romans 11:36 (NLT). Be both practical and honest about your monetary desires. And remember when we honor God in all areas of our lives, including our finances, He will pour out more than we could have ever imagined.

Money isn't everything, but it's definitely important. God calls us to be good stewards of our resources, and that includes money. Click To Tweet

And That’s All Folks

I hope these past five weeks on How to Establish the Most Important Marriage Expectations have blessed you. I pray that if you and your significant other are headed down the aisle you will have many crucial conversations to set yourselves up for years of peace, understanding, and blessings.

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With lots of love,

Jazmen Johnson

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