Before I got married and started a family, my money was my own. I worked hard for it, I spent it how I saw fit, and I didn’t have to consider anyone else’s needs and wants. I was supporting myself, and was free to spend and save when and how I wanted.
That all changed once I started planning a future with my now husband, M. Marriage is a partnership, and that means that every financial decision that one partner makes will have an impact on the other.
From the Beginning
Early on in our relationship, we started budgeting for things like groceries when we lived together. Although we weren’t married yet, we still had financial goals that we wanted to reach. Living on different continents several months out of the year also meant that travel expenses were a big part of our spending. We had to be smart with our money, both individually and collectively, in order to be in the same place (literally!).
Because M and I were basically between 2 countries for the first few years of our marriage, we had separate bank accounts in our respective homelands, but we managed our funds together. There were no secrets about money coming in and going out, and that openness has worked well for us.
The transition of going from being a single gal, earning and spending however I wanted, to being a wife and a mom, sometimes not earning, and spending mostly on life’s necessities, didn’t happen overnight. Anyone who has gotten married, started a family, or joined their finances with a partner can probably relate. We became a team, and we learned to work together to reach our goals.
Once M and I started planning for our life together, money and finances became an important part of the conversation. Learning about each other’s attitudes towards spending and saving is so important in the beginning of a relationship, because it helps to prevent surprises down the road. I know where M’s weaknesses lie, in terms of spending, and he knows mine. We can always pull each other back from the brink and refocus on the big picture.
Once you start a family, it isn’t just about you anymore. Your loved ones are relying on you to make smart financial choices. As much as I might like to go out and drop cash on something frivolous, it isn’t something that I can justify doing. I’m quite sure that there are things that M would love to go out and buy, too. But our little family of 3 has priorities, and it’s up to both of us to stay focused on them.
Single life and family life both have their financial benefits and drawbacks. It takes effort and honesty to make a marriage work, and finances play a huge part in that. If you can’t be open about money with your partner, you’ll likely find the transition from single person to family member a rough one. One of the biggest benefits? Once you get married and start a family, you’re part of a team, working together for the big wins and small successes, and supporting each other through the losses.
*image by David Castillo Dominici