The following 5 Surprisingly Easy Ways to Communicate with Your Spouse About Money—Without Having to Talk have helped my husband and I be in the 'know' of what's going on with our 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 so that you are not 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?".
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.
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 can be the single most helpful strategy in a couple's financial life. Linking all the credit cards, loans, investments, accounts (checking, savings, paypal, Venmo), etc. to a Mint (or similar) account and downloading the app on your phones allows both parties to see what is going on in their 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. I recommend setting up almost everything possible on auto-pay. Cell phone, mortgage, utilities, credit cards, insurance, and other bills are then paid on time by the company's payment system. You are then emailed 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 to do to streamline our bills even more is to create a joint email that is used for finances only and sync it to both of your phones' emails. This joint email will help you so you can 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'.
In the file I recommend having 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'll need to refer to because they are easy to forget.
For example, $50 is what you may budget for kids' 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 so know that both parties are on the same page when it comes to variable expenses and you don't have to keep asking each other what you had decided on. This also prevents a couple from having to have the same conversations or deciding what to spend on certain categories over and over again.
4- Create individual spending accounts.
My sister and I 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 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 and they are making more, they are back to having their own spending accounts and an allotted percentage that goes into each.
5- Make use of email, google drive, and short/direct texts.
If you have complicated taxes (a business, etc.) I recommend using a trusted CPA. The CPA will help a lot with streamlining your information and come tax time you could even communicate by all being on an email thread together. This is a great way to streamline info without having to constantly bring up tax questions in conversation.
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), it is usually very direct and less likely to get emotional vs a face-to-face conversation. For example, if you see a charge you don't recognize at all. You can just shoot out a text. "Hey was that credit card charge to ____ company for ___ amount yours?" If he/she says yes its good. If it was "no" you can call your credit card company and figure it out. This is a pretty obvious observation, but texting can easily resolve questions in a few seconds which frees up day-to-day conversation.