The following 5 Surprisingly Easy Ways to Communicate with Your Spouse About Money—Without Having to Talk will help a couple be in the ‘know’ of what’s going on with their finances without actually having to broach the topic in a conversation.
Communicating with a spouse about money is sometimes tough. More often than not, couples have differing views on money and money management. In fact, money is one of the main causes for divorce (it is always in the top 3 on the studies I could find). This statistic goes to show that money matters can be hard on relationships. That said, money management is necessary in life. It is vital to know what is going on with your bills, payments, savings, investments, and expenditures which happen on a day-to-day basis.
These tips will help eliminate the need for constantly asking, “Did you spend anything today?”, “Can I spend money on this?”, “How much did we budget for entertainment monthly?”, “Why didn’t you pay the credit card on time?”, or “Where is our investment at?”. All you have to do is refer back to the resources I’ll mention in this article.
Note- It is important for me to state that a couple must have a few conversations to get to the point of applying the following tips. You will need to outline income, expenses, and set budgets for expenses that vary (gifts, clothing, food, fuel, etc.). It’s also wise to look over your spending at least every 6 months to see if you can cut back and save, re-evaluate investments, pay down loans, etc. I’m not saying conversing about money is bad. All I’m saying is there are efficient ways to set up your finances in a relationship.
Once you have a general idea of income and expenses these 5 tips will prevent the need for daily or even weekly money talk.
1- Sync all accounts to an app like Mint.
This may be the single most helpful strategy in your financial life. You can link all the credit cards, loans, investments, accounts (checking, savings, paypal, Venmo), etc. to your Mint account. Downloaded the app on your phones and you can see everything that is going on in your financial life. All you have to do is log in to see what you have spent and haven’t spent, where are loans and credit cards are at, etc.
2- Set up all bills on auto-pay and have the email confirmations that payment was made sent to both emails or a joint email.
This is another very helpful strategy to incorporate. Set up almost everything possible on auto-pay: cell phone, mortgage, utilities, credit cards, insurance, and other bills that can be paid ontime by the company’s system. You can opt in to receive an email confirmation when the bill is paid.
It is so nice to not have to worry about who is paying what. If you choose to set your credit card up on auto pay, I highly recommend checking the charges at least weekly.
One thing you could do to do to streamline bills even more is to create a joint email that is used for finances only and sync it to both of your phones’ emails. You could use this email for all cards, utilities, car and health insurances, etc. This joint email will help you so both can see important correspondence that occurs.
3- Set up a shared excel doc listing your income and fixed and variable expenses.
While this step does require a conversation initially it is something that can be referred to over and over again without having to ‘talk about money’.
Set up a free google excel file that is shared between the two of you. In the file you should have a budget snap shot of your income and main expenses: fixed and variable. The variable expenses you’ve budgeted for are often the ones you will need to refer to ensure you are staying in budget.
For example, $50 is what you may budget for your kid’s birthdays. $125.00 a week on food, $50 a month on babysitters. etc. If you forget these numbers or say, how much you decided to spend on in-laws during Christmas, you can simply look at the file.
This helps a couple know that they are on the same page when it comes to variable expenses. They won’t have to keep asking each other what was decided. This also prevents a couple from having to have the same conversations or decide what to spend on certain categories over and over again.
4- Create individual spending accounts.
My sister wrote about having individual spending accounts in the book we co-authored, Living a Rich Life as a Stay-at-Home Mom: How to Build a Secure Financial Foundation for You and Your Children.
For the first many years of her marriage, Karen and her husband put 5% of their income into each one of their own spending accounts every paycheck. This way they could spend money how they wanted, when they wanted, and without having to consult each other. They also liked this system because they knew it was fair, even, and that their spending was budgeted for.
Unfortunately, they had to stop putting money into their spending accounts when money got tight and they had kids in diapers. Now that the kids are in a different stage of life and they are making more, they are back to having their own spending accounts and an allotted percentage that goes into each.
This gives both parties the freedom to spend on their important items. Even putting aside 1% of your income for each person each month will start to add up.
5- Make use of email, google drive, and short/direct texts.
If you have a CPA who does your taxes, come tax time you could communicate by all being on an email thread together. This is a great way to streamline info and make sure all parties involved with taxes are in the know.
Another great way to keep track of money matters is to upload important documents to a google drive. When the W2’s come, scan and upload them. This way you won’t have to ask each other for important documents—they will be in one shared convenient folder that either party can access when needed.
Text (while some may say text is the same as talking) I feel it is usually very direct and less likely to get emotional vs a face-to-face conversation. If you see a charge you don’t recognize, just shoot your wife/husband a text. “Hey was that credit card charge to ____ company for ___ amount yours?” He/she will text back yes or no. If he/she says yes you know you are good. If it was “no” Then you can call your credit card company and figure it out. Texting can help resolve easy questions in a few seconds.
These strategies work best for couples who are working together toward a common goal. Despite doing these 5 things, there are still some days when you will have to talk about money. For the most part though, following these strategies will help increase the financial ‘know’ each person in the relationship has while simultaneously freeing up conversation to talk about less mundane things—like the sunset, the kids, or your favorite TV series on Netflix.
I hope these tips help your relationship as well!