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Should Money Matter in Marriage?

Short answer…YES. I understand that love should have very little to do with money, but marriage to me is a life long partnership. That partnership is just easier if spouses agree on goals in life, including the monetary ones.  Money does matter in marriage.

I have heard way too many awful stories about a husband or wife hiding a huge purchase, opening secret credit cards, or hiding huge sums of debt. These sound like absolute nightmares to me.

The Reason I Dated

When I started dating, it was so I could meet my future husband. I didn’t date just to have a good time or with the idea that I was young and could just mess around. I knew that I wanted a solid marriage that could be based on honesty, sympathy, and a huge dose of initimateness, lol.  A partner that would work against our mutual goals of financial security were not options in my mind.

Our Long-Term Goals

Thankfully, Mr. BFS would never jeopardize our future by hiding spending or making purchases we can’t afford. I won’t either. Do we ever argue about money? Of course. We aren’t the same people so we do disagree on the specifics once in a while. BUT, we completely agree on our long-term needs and goals, which is why we work so well on saving together.

For example, we both want early financial independence.  Don’t you want to retire early?  We want to be able to choose our daily schedules by the time we hit 52. That means we have about 25 years to save up our target 2 million dollars between my 401(k), our Roth IRA, and our Scottrade account. We are planning on my husband’s pension being our starting point when we decide on our retirement budget and the rest being used to fill in any cracks. We use the best tax preparation services to make sure we’re getting all the tax benefits from these categories too.

Retirement is important enough for us to save 

30-40% of our total take-home pay

. My husband or I would be devestated if either one of did something that ruined that dream. The fact that I know that we are in it together gives me the security I need to enjoy life.

Would he leave me or would I leave him if one of us ever forgets who the heck we are and hides away $50,000 in credit card debt?

  Probably. I know it is not the most romantic idea, but who wants to stay married to a liar?

Our Favorite Example

My favorite example of my ideal marriage would be my husband’s grandparents. After many conversations with his grandma, I found that arguments are normal and communication is key. They talk about everything and budget together. They even have their own small stashes (not secret) to spend at will. They are where I hope Mr. BFS and I still are in 50 years. 🙂

What do you think? Am I being young and naive? I have only been married for 5 years, so what do you more experienced people think?

18 thoughts on “Should Money Matter in Marriage?”

  1. Bogey

    I think that attitudes toward spending, compatibility of short and long term financial goals and other similar issues are the “money issues” that do matter in marriage.

    But, I would also say that I have seen couples that focus their marriage too much on money, and end up sacrificing the attention needed to build a solid relationship with one another.

    The lack, focus on, or ignoring of financial matters causes a ton of divorces.

  2. First Gen American

    It absolutely matters. I can’t imagine the stress I would have if my husband decided to buy that vacation house he wants without having me feel okay about it first. The last time we talked about it, I literally got sick to my stomach because we’d be living paycheck to paycheck trying to pay for something that wasn’t even habitable. He agreed that we didn’t have enough money to do it (even though I’m sure the banks would agree to it in a heartbeat). If he wasn’t supportive, it could have ruined us in so many ways.

  3. Everyday Tips

    You gotta have similar goals, or you will just undermine each other left and right.

    Along with similar goals, it helps to have similar spending priorities. Some people might go without cable or home phone service, but they really enjoy a few nice dinners out each month. That is fine, as long as that is both people’s priorities. But if I love the steakhouse and my husband loves watching ESPN, then there will be a problem!

  4. Laura

    Yes it matters. We both have the same life goals which we work towards as a couple. Any money we earn is joint money for our future financial freedom.

    It makes no difference to us who earns the most, it’s one big pot 🙂

  5. Finanzas Personales

    Crystal, I think the most important step is deciding to talk about the subject. For some reason it seems like people don’t want to open their financial secrets to anyone – sometimes even their own fammily – with the consequences that can carry.
    I’m not married yet… however I’m really close to it. My passion for personal finances (which I guess it’s your case too) has made me get my fiancee involved in the topic. She has a clear understanding of where my finances are today, where I want them to be for us in the future and why I’m taking this or that decision today. It’s so much simpler that way!!!

  6. Crystal @ BFS

    @Bogey, too much of anything is a bad thing – even money talk (although my definition of too much may be different than most people’s, lol). 🙂

    @First Gen, great example! If Mr. BFS decided that we really did need a bigger how and “surprised” me with it, I think I’d have heart problems and die…

    @Everyday Tips, yeah, if Len decided golf was his new fave sport, but I was still spending thousands of dollars on travel, we’d never retire…

    @Laura, it’s one big pot for me and Mr. BFS too. Same goals, less strife.

    @Finanzas Personales, I obviously have no problem with talking money, but I think that you are very right and a lot of people hate the subject and avoid it like the plague. I am so happy my husband isn’t one of them…

    Best wishes for your upcoming wedding!!!

  7. DoNotWait

    I don’t think money is that important in a marriage, but goals are. And of course, goals about our money are on the list. To me, it is important to have personal goals and couple goals. So, couple money goals should be retirement, savings (no matter the reason, let it be to pay mortgage quicker, vacations or kids education) and some kind of lifestyle. If a couple agrees to much of that, then it is the money that matters, but the goals. Same thing you might say, but a different perspective and a lot more positive one to me. Of course, hiding spending and debts is no good for anyone. I would have a lot of trouble dealing with that.

  8. Crystal @ BFS

    @DoNotWait, okay, i can see that. Most of my goals center around money and day-to-day life. It really does make it easier that my partner agrees and helps with the big ones. 🙂

  9. Jeff @ Sustainable Life Blog

    I’d have to agree that while it’s not “romantic” to have money matter – the truth isnt always romantic. People need to understand that while it may not be fun (for everyone) it’s still there and needs to be dealt with.

  10. Ravi Gupta

    I think money is one of the most important things in a marriage. If it wasn’t most of the divorces here in the United States wouldn’t happen (50% divorce rate mostly attributed to money).
    With all that being said if your goals are alligned I can’t see any problems arising atleast from money. Personally I would never marry someone who had bad spending habbits or that were liars.

    -Ravi G.

  11. Robert @ The College Investor

    Money is huge. While you shouldn’t be with someone for the money, if your style and their style (or even waste) or money doesn’t jive, you can’t make it. The sad fact is that the world requires money, and if you and your partner can’t agree on how to do it together, you can’t make it.

  12. Sandy @ yesiamcheap

    I don’t know why people pretend as if money isn’t important. IT IS. It’s one of the top reasons why couples break up. If you want to stay together for a logn time, you will discuss money and evaluate your potential partners’ financial compatibility before getting married.

  13. Andi B. @ MealPlanRescue.com

    I don’t know that the dollars and cents are extremely important in marriage (unless we’re talking about million dollar debts), but attitude towards money certainly is. My husband and I just celebrated our 6th anniversary and we still love each other very much. There’s been more financial downs then ups, but they way we handle them by working together has actually helped to strengthen our marriage.

  14. JT McGee

    Absolutely. And not just from an emotional standpoint, when you marry someone, you marry their spending habits previous, especially their debts. :O

  15. So, here it is, coming from someone who has been married (and yes, to the same spouse)longer than you have lived – communicating and agreeing on an operational mode on money matters IS important.

    An aspect no one has mentioned yet in the comment stream is the importance of understanding your own, your spouses and your joint money personalities so that you can impart a decent financial education to your kids.

    Anyone interested in that aspect could take a look at Silver Spoon Kids -How Successful Parents Raise Responsible Children by Eileen and Jon Gallo or Children of Paradise – Successful Parenting for Prosperous Families by Lee Hausner.

    That said, life is so much more than money – enjoy your moments as they go by!

  16. MD

    I personally can’t see myself dating just one person or getting married any time soon, but I’m only 23. With that being said, I have about 4 older friends (from gym and work) that are already divorced. They all stress the same point– they tell me the main causes for divorce revolve around sex and money.

    While I have no personal experience, when people I respect talk, I listen.You can live in a fantasy world or you can accept reality and learn how to solve your money problems together.

    My friend Kyle just proposed to his girlfriend. I remember a few months before doing so we had an awkward convo about her finances. Apparently she has like $30,000 in student debt, while he is debt free. He has fun ideas for life as a couple, while she will have to stress about debt payments. I really do hope that they figure this out before the wedding.

  17. DoNotWait

    @MD
    You’re right. Main cause of divorce are either sex or money. That does not mean it can’t work out. The situation you describe about your friend who proposed really is similar to mine before we got married (except my debt was a lot less, around $10k). That is one point we made clear before moving together and we discussed finance more again before getting married. Maybe we only had the chance to see things pretty much the same, but I also assume that a good conversation, respect towards the other and being open minded made both of us comfortable with it and happy in marriage.

  18. crisis citizen

    I don’t know if money should matter in a relationship (not only marriage, sometimes it’s about all sort of family relationships), but I know they DO matter quite a lot. All healthy relationships have their issues about money, the difference between them and the unhealthy relationships is that they are discussed and agreed upon.

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