Financial Literacy Month is almost over, but there’s one more thing that can help improve your finances. Making decisions together as a couple makes a big difference.
Every dynamic and situation is different, but there are as many ways to do the right thing as there are excuses for not doing anything.
1. Income adequacy is more important than income in happy marriages. Yes, you read that right. Money doesn’t buy happiness, but being content with your level of income can mean a better chance at happiness.
2. Saving money and actually growing your savings or emergency fund or whatever you’re focused on is also related to the stability of a marriage. This is more correlation than anything, but if you’re focused on yourself in the future you’re looking to save and thinking about your family down the road.
3. If you don’t feel in control of your finances, you won’t want to spend time discussing your finances. It can feel like finances spin out of control and if you don’t have a handle on what you can do to change them you won’t feel like you can. Don’t sit on the sideline. Find a way to discuss your finances, even if you start with the easy discussions and work your way up to the hard ones.
4. Happy couples usually make joint decisions, have considerable discussion, and make mutual compromises. Those are three specific financial conversation attributes to track. Don’t be afraid to talk until you can come to a decision. Some topics aren’t solvable in one sitting, but they can be made in a productive manner.
5. Making decisions together is a source of financial and relationship strength. The more important a financial decision, the more likely it will be made jointly. Along with that, decisions which are made jointly typically carry more influence than those that weren’t. Better financial decisions come from at least two view points and a discussion.
In fact, 78 percent of couples who talk about money once a month consider themselves very happy or extremely happy.
6. An important part of joint decisions is establishing equality and equity in decision making early in the relationship. Having that input can keep financial discussions productive instead of combative.
7. Joint decision making is great, except when it isn’t. The longer the relationship and the higher the income, the more separate decision making increases. A big part of this could be considered autonomous decisions. Paying a bill could be a matter of fact and not need a discussion, especially if income has increased to an adequate level.
8. Specialized roles in family finances also contributed to happy couples, especially early on. Just because someone handles the bills and someone else handles the saving and budget, doesn’t mean those things can’t also be discussed and changed. It does save some day-to-day stress on someone and helps alleviate the responsibility of handling all the finances, especially when starting out
9. Autonomous, specialized decisions can also be improved by creating and assigning priorities for the use of money. Deciding where extra money goes at the end of the month helps make those decisions easier when it happens. It can also make it easier to have one person make certain decisions if your priorities are clear enough that the decision becomes easier.
Priorities can also help to whittle down your budget so your money is actually going toward your priorities and not unnecessary spending. Don’t be afraid to align your daily decisions with your long-term goals.
10. Decisions on how to automate family finances can be long-lasting or short-lived. Shorter-term decisions usually include bill paying priority and debt payment amounts. They change more frequently and so do your finances, so when a change needs made, take a look at your financial picture again and reset your bill or debt process.
11. Your method of saving, the amount you save, the number of accounts you have, your system of budgeting and your use of leftover funds all persist for longer periods of time. If you’re automating your saving out of your paycheck, it’s no surprise it will persist like that until you have a big enough reason to change. These are decisions that become comfortable. Discussing them when needed can help make timely changes. For instance, saving more when you get a raise or matching your financial structure to your financial needs when income fluctuates can help make sure your finances stay on track.
Don’t be afraid to discuss your finances and start creating a working family financial structure. Take advantage of Mvelopes’ free 30-day trial to get started