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.
Although our marriage isn’t typically emotionally charged when it comes to finances, talking about day-to-day money matters just gets mundane. Just the other day, my husband and I went for a walk. I was enjoying talking with him about many things. Then I remembered that I needed to ask my husband about a money matter. Normally we don’t talk too much about money because of the ways we manage it (listed below). But today was an off day and I had to bring it up.
I waited until we were almost home so that the conversation we were having about more exciting things could continue. Once I brought money up our conversation shifted. It was no longer light and upbeat, it kind of got stressful and negative. What we were discussing was not even a ‘big deal’ money matter and neither of us were even very emotional about it, yet it still was a stark contrast to the better conversation we were having before.
After we resolved the matter, I realized I was glad that I had enjoyed our previous conversation for as long as possible. I said to myself, ‘I’m so glad Cam and I don’t have to talk about money too much’. Then I wondered why it never comes up that much. I realized why. We are making use of many resources which have inadvertently helped us become so in the ‘know’ of what is going on in our financial life it prevents money from constantly coming up in conversation. The result has been nice.
We aren’t 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 we 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.
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 has been the single most helpful strategy in our financial life. My husband and I linked all the credit cards, loans, investments, accounts (checking, savings, paypal, Venmo), etc. to our Mint account. We downloaded the app on our phones and now we can see everything that is going on in our financial life. All I have to do is log in to see what we 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. My husband and I set up almost everything possible on auto-pay. Our cell phone, mortgage, utilities, credit cards, insurance, and other bills are paid for us by the company’s system. We are emailed confirmation when the bill is paid.
It is so nice to not have to worry about who is paying what. We even have most of our credit cards set up on auto pay to pay the entire thing before the bill is due—which means we don’t pay interest and never get late fees. If you choose to set your credit card up on auto pay, I highly recommend checking the charges at least weekly.
One thing I’m going 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 our phones’ emails. We will use this email for all cards, utilities, car and health insurances, etc. This joint email will help us so we 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’.
We have set up and are currently perfecting a free google excel file that is shared between the two of us. In the file we have a budget snap shot of our income and main expenses: fixed and variable. The variable expenses we’ve budgeted for are often the ones I need to refer to because I forget what we decided on.
For example, $50 is what we budgeted for our kid’s birthdays. $125.00 a week on food, $50 a month on babysitters. etc. If I forget these numbers or say, how much we decided to spend on in-laws during Christmas, I can simply look at the file.
This helps us know that we are on the same page when it comes to variable expenses and we don’t have to keep asking each other what we had decided. This also prevents us 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 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.
I have done this successfully in marriage as well. Right now my husband and I are putting any extra money towards our renovation. After the renovation is finished, we will put aside around 1% of our income into each other’s savings/spending accounts. This is so we can spend in a budgeted manner without having to talk about or get permission to buy what we want.
5- Make use of email, google drive, and short/direct texts.
We have a CPA and come tax time we will 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) I feel it is usually very direct and less likely to get emotional vs a face-to-face conversation. For example, somedays I see a charge I don’t recognize at all. I’ll just shoot my husband a text. “Hey was that credit card charge to ____ company for ___ amount yours?” He will text back yes or no. If he says yes I know we are good. If it was “no” I’ll call our credit card company and figure it out. Texting has helped my husband and I resolve easy questions in a few seconds and not have to talk about money during day-to-day conversation.
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 we have to talk about money. For the most part though, following these strategies has helped us free up conversation to talk about less mundane things—like the sunset, our kids, or our favorite TV series on Netflix.
I hope these tips help your relationship as well!