6 Money Mistakes to Avoid in Marriage

Couple adding coin together to the piggy bank

Let us be clear, every couple will make mistakes, sometimes learning from them and sometimes accidentally making the same ones over and over again. But, First Kentucky wants to help you avoid some of the issues and arguments that come up for all couples.

Hear straight from couples who are navigating marriage and finances, just like you. Some have been married for years, others are just beginning their journey.

Here are the top money mistakes they hope you’ll avoid with your spouse:

1. Not Being Committed to a Budget

“My opinion of the biggest mistake would be to not develop a budget that both are committed to. You cannot spend more than you make over a period of time. Without a plan, it is easy for people to spend beyond their means and pile up debt.”
– Jimmy Ivey, Vice President, Retail Underwriting

Budgeting isn’t the fun part of marriage, or life in general, but it does help you fund your dreams! Whether that’s your dream wedding, honeymoon, home, or car, a budget can help you stay on track toward your goals.


2. Not Willing to Compromise

“Once you are married it isn’t about what you want or what your check can buy you. It is about what you and your spouse want or need as a team.”
– Haley Diel, Branch Manager

Money is a hard topic to talk about. But, it’s important for you to understand each other’s priorities. Hopefully they will be similar, but there will be times you’ll disagree on the decision to be made.

What does this look like practically?

Sometimes it’s making a sacrifice so your spouse can purchase something that’s important to them. And other times, the compromise is not making a purchase at all to increase your savings. Compromise involves sacrifice, but it’s essential to reach your goals as a married team.


3. Failing to Communicate

“Know that most disagreements over finances can be overcome if you communicate with each other and try to see your spouse’s point of view.”
– Elizabeth Gilliland, Electronic Banking Clerk

If you make a mistake, don’t hide it. If you need to make a purchase that’s outside of the budget, talk about it first. If you have a joint checking account, constantly communicate any purchases or changes you’ve made so no one is left standing surprised at the register.


4. No Transparency

“Both parties must be transparent, openly communicate, and both have to be totally committed. To develop a budget, you need to know all of the income and all of the debt. If there is anything that has not been shared before (a large of amount of debt for example), it would have to come out when the budget is discussed.”
– Jimmy Ivey, Vice President, Retail Underwriting

This should really be discussed before the “I dos.” Debt is a part of most couples’ lives as many individuals come to the relationship with student debt or credit card debt. So, for you to be able to make an accurate budget and plan for the future, you need to discuss anything and everything that will impact your finances.

Transparency helps build and maintain trust, so don’t break that by hiding a poor financial decision or current debts.


5. Believing the Other Side is ‘Wrong’

“Remember, ‘not wrong, just different.’ When you disagree on how to go about something, oftentimes either plan will work. The other person’s way of doing something is not wrong, just different.”
– Richard Scoggins, Senior Risk Officer

Both people come into a marriage having preconceived notions as to how money should be handled, whether they’ve consciously thought about it or not. Then, when their spouse does something different, an argument can easily follow.

Instead, realize that your spouse has different ways of handling things, but that doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Discuss your differing viewpoints and actions and see if you can compromise or possibly even learn from the others’ way of doing things. You may discover their way is in fact better (don’t worry, this won’t always be the case, but when it is, give them some credit).


6. Creating Unrealistic Goals

“Don’t live above your means.  It is important to be realistic about what type of lifestyle you can afford such as your cars, home, travel, etc. Talk to your spouse about the short and long-term goals for your life and make small decisions now that can help you reach those goals.
– Amanda Rorer, Marketing & CRA Officer

Just because they are unrealistic goals for your situation today, doesn’t mean they will never be realistic.

Create goals you know are attainable now, but always have your dreams in your back pocket. Having lofty dreams and unrealistic expectations are two very different things. You may dream with your spouse about having a 5-bedroom house with a pool out back, but if that’s not realistic with your income, then don’t let it become an unrealistic expectation. That will only cause disappointment.

One last piece of advice for every couple facing how to handle their finances:

“For this to work you have to be transparent, communicate, and be committed, and you must realize that marriage and finances will take a lot of compromise as you are working together toward the same goals.”
– Jimmy Ivey, Vice President, Retail Underwriting

So, communicate, compromise, and commit. Those are ingredients that will help you win in your marriage financially (and in general too!).