Separate Finances in a Marriage
Often when a person gets excited about getting their finances under control, they soon come to a roadblock. For some people, it’s the pain of changing habits. For others it may be an unexpected emergency or job loss before their plan is in place. But, for many people, the roadblock is a non-excited spouse.
Once you get married, you legally become one entity. While that is true, many people – psychologically – continue to see themselves as a separate individual. This is problematic in a marriage, because your psychology doesn’t change the law. Both the debts and the income that occur after the marriage belong to the marriage.
As logical and simple as that is, you can’t really force someone to embrace that fact. Some people cling to the feeling of power by hiding assets, controlling all the money, or keeping expenses secret. It would be wise if people were denied marriage licenses until they’d received financial counseling. But that’s unlikely to happen. After all, both weddings and divorces are big business!
So, if you have a financially resistant spouse who is great in all other areas, you may have to settle for separate finances. Again, your separate finances do not trump the fact that you are one financial entity with your spouse. However, if you are the financially responsible one, you can at least exert a measure of control over your personal resources.
The following are some things you can implement on your own that will help create a financial base for your couple:
- Create a savings account to cover 6 months of your expenses. If your spouse lives in denial or spends every penny he or she earns, then you will have to be the responsible one. Budget your automated savings as high as you can to cover for the fact that you’re trying to do it for the two of you.
- Make your will. Dying intestate (without a will) leaves families adrift financially. Probate is challenging enough, but without a will to guide the distribution of assets after your death, you’re at the mercy of state law and the justice system.
- Buy life insurance. Don’t leave this up to chance. If one of you dies unexpectedly, the other is going to need money right away. There may be bills that need to be paid off and, of course, there’s the funeral to pay for. Don’t leave this up to crowd-sourcing. Plan ahead. Death is the only certainty in life
- Stay motivated by consuming financial podcasts, blogs, books, groups, etc. Since you and your partner are not on the same page, it’s much harder to stay motivated and reach your goals. It’s not impossible, but it’s harder. You’ll need to feel like you’re not struggling alone; that there are others who care about fiscal responsibility.
- Give up on your spouse, but not really. What I mean is don’t try to nag at them to change. It’s not going to work, and might actually make things worse. Just stick to your plan and stay excited; stay motivated. As you leave them alone, but excitedly talk about your vision for your joint financial future, you might just win them over. The added momentum of their support – or at least less resistance – will take you to your goals in no time flat!
I hope this has been helpful.Even in a perfectly financially in-sync marriage, it’s good to have a little separate money all your own. Also, if you have any doubts about your spouse’s character, separate finances might actually be preferable. But as with anything, it’s best to just focus on what you can control, and be easy about the rest. There’s a lot you can do on your own to protect your family’s future.
To your success,
Raven B. Kushner is a mortgage loan officer based in Los Angeles County, serving all of California. For more information, or to be pre-approved, please contact her at (626) 538-7818 or email@example.com.