7 money mistakes that can mess up your marriage

When it comes to whether you and your betrothed will remain together until death do you part, it’s largely about the Benjamins.

Yes, we’re talking money here, folks.

According to a study from Kansas State University, arguments about money are the leading predictor of whether a marriage will end in divorce.

Of course, there are no guarantees, but this suggests you may be able to increase your chances of marital bliss by avoiding common money mistakes.

Following are seven common money mistakes that couples make.

 

1. Thinking your spouse’s debt is not your problem

 

Today, men and women marry much later in life than they did in earlier generations. That means both people in the new union have had plenty of opportunities to rack up a little debt, whether that’s from student loans, credit cards or a shiny new car.

Legally, you are not responsible for paying off the debt that your spouse accrued before your marriage. However, you are not being particularly smart — let alone nice — if you decide there is no way your income will be used to pay off Mr. or Ms. Right’s debt.

Ideally, you will have discussed this matter before your wedding day and done your best to clean up bad debt in advance. But if you find yourself married to someone with a boatload of debt, it’s in your best interest to help pay it down as quickly as possible.

Our Solutions Center offers help with credit card debt, tax debt and student loan debt. Use this resource to put yourself on the path to a debt-free future.

 

2. Failing to join finances

 

Even if you want to maintain separate accounts for spending money, you should have a joint account for combined expenses. After all, you are one household now. You’re both enjoying the roof over your heads and the heated air in the winter.

Having a single budget ensures there is no resentment about who has more money or who gets stuck with a specific bill. Dump all your money into a joint account, write out a budget that pays all the shared bills, and divvy up the extra for spending money.

 

3. Not having spending rules in place

 

Another benefit of having a unified household budget is that it gives you an opportunity to discuss ground rules for how to manage money together as a couple.

Ground rules will vary from couple to couple, but you and your spouse should be on the same page when it comes to answering these questions:

  • How much discretionary money can one spouse spend without conferring with the other spouse?
  • What discussion needs to take place before one spouse opens a credit card account or takes out a loan?
  • If there are kids in the family, do they get an allowance? If so, how is that doled out?
  • How will money discussions take place? Will they be scheduled at regular times, or just on an as-needed basis?
  • What happens with bonuses or unexpected windfalls?

Having ground rules in place will help avoid stressful situations. Go ahead and write them down so there is no confusion about what was said and agreed upon.

RELATED: Check out the top expenses you're probably wasting your money on:

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50 everyday expenses you need to stop spending money on
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50 everyday expenses you need to stop spending money on
ATM fees

"Take a bit of extra time to withdraw money from your bank's ATM and save on the cost to withdraw your own cash or if your bank has a mobile app, use it to find an in-network ATM near you."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Lottery tickets

"According to the Powerball, the odds hitting the jackpot are 1 in 292,201,338.00, and CNN cites that Americans spent $70.15 billion in 2014. Let's save our hard-earned money."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Coffee

"A daily cup of joe adds up if you purchase it at places like Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts. Save by brewing at home."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Credit card interest

"Maintaining a balance on your card usually you to pay interest each month. Try to pay off your credit card balance in full each month or send more than the minimum payment. As always, use your credit cards responsibly."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Kids meals when dining out

"When you do dine out and if you have kids with you, be sure to take advantage of 'kids eat free' specials. Most restaurants have specific days of the week when they offer free kids meals."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Gas station food and snacks

"Although it may be convenient, prices are always marked up when compared to other stores. So take the time to shop for food in advance at your grocery store and pack emergency snacks in your car."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Pumping premium gas

"Some vehicles may not require premium gas, which is the most costly of the gasoline grades. Stop trying to be fancy, check the owner's manual, and save."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Banking fees

"Don't pay to manage your money at a bank. Find banks that offer free banking or bank online for free like CapitalOne 360. Earn $25 when you open a free checking or high-yield savings account."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Change-counting machines

"Many of us like to keep our loose change in a jar and let it collect over time. Once it's full, don't pay machines to count it for you, go to your bank to deposit your savings or have it exchange for cash."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Wasting gas due to low tire pressure

"You may not know this, but having low tire pressure affects your mileage significantly. Save gas and money by improving your gas mileage by simply checking your tire pressure and maintaining it at the proper level."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Single car washing

"Many car wash places offer a flat monthly rate for unlimited washes, so check with your local car wash to find out if they offer a monthly rate and cash in on a clean car. Or, you can get a discount when you pump your gas."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Bottled water

"Unless you live in an area where potable water isn't safe, don't waste your money on bottled water. Often times, it's simply bottled tap water. Buy a reusable water bottle or invest in a quality water filter, and save (plus you'll reduce plastic waste)."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Cigarettes

"It's a tough addiction to beat, but it is a very expensive to purchase cigarettes daily. Aside from causing deadly health effects, according to Time, smoking can cost you $1 to $2 million in a lifetime. Make an effort to better your health and wallet."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Gift bags and wrapping

"Reuse bags from previous occasions if they are still in good condition. We started doing this last year and no longer have to run out and by $3+ gift bags when we go to events or parties."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Plastic bags fees

"For those living in an area where stores charge for plastic bags (*cough cough Chicago*), bring your own reusable one. Those cents add up!"

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Utility bill payment fees

"Skip the line at the currency exchange or grocery store and pay online using checking account or debit card. Some companies charge to use a debit card, so schedule e-check payment, which is typically free."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Travel size toiletries

"For the frequent traveler, you should buy empty travel containers and refill with shampoo, lotion, etc. as needed."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Paper

"Unless you're a student, you probably don't really need to buy a lot of paper – reuse already printed pages and use both sides."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Magazine and newspaper subscriptions

"Save money and paper by keeping up with free online news services."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Paying for premium streaming music services

"In the digital age of music, don't pay for premium services. Streaming companies like SoundCloud and Spotify allow you to listen to music for free."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Buying books

"If you'd like to truly own a book, then save on the paper and extra cost by purchasing the digital version, or go to your local library and check them out for free."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Library late fees

"Remember to return all materials on time. It'll save you money and allow for other library patrons to enjoy the material in a timely manner. If you do have library fees, wait for a month when they accept canned goods as a payment method (usually around the holidays)." 

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Brand new video games

"Skip the early release and commotion of having the latest video game. Save major bucks by purchasing a used version of the game online or at stores like Game Stop."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

In-app purchases

"Gaming apps are meant to entertain, and while most of them are free, don't fall for the "purchase bonus lives" trap. In-game purchases add up."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Greeting cards

"Take some time to make your own personal cards or send an eCard and skip on the expense."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

New phone chargers

"If you forget your charger and your phone needs to be charged, some time you'll be inclined to purchase a new one, but it can be costly or even poor quality. Always keep your charger handy, look for a charging station where you're at, or simply ask to borrow one."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Expiration dates

"Sometimes, expiration dates may not reflect the true shelf life of a product. Don't waste food (and money) by throwing out a product which may still be fine to consume. Check out Eat By Date and see for yourself the true shelf life of your groceries."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Stuff on your birthday

"When you're heading out and can't or don't want to drive, consider calling Uber or Lyft instead of calling a cab so you can save money on the ride. You can use my linkto get $20 off your first Uber ride."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Batteries

"Save on disposable batteries and purchase rechargeable ones. They can last up to two to three years."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Pens

"Many offices, banks, insurance companies, etc, give them away for free. Save them and skip on the purchase."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Insurance

"Be sure to get the best rate for your individual needs, whether it is car, health, home or life insurance."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Garbage bags

"If your area doesn't charge for using plastic bags, reuse the ones you get from shopping as garbage bags. I do this all the time."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

More house than you need

"While some families "grow into" their homes, sometimes less is more. Save on mortgage and the possibility of purchasing more for a larger home. Downsize and save."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Club/bar full cover charges

"While having a spontaneous night out is fun, if you RSVP when possible, arrive early, or take advantage of online ticket sales, you can skip out on paying in full at your favorite nightlife places."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Leaky faucets

"If you pay for water utility bill, according to the EPA, fixing leaky faucets saves you 10% on your bill. By ignoring it, you not only lose money every day it goes unfixed, but you also waste clean water, at a rate of 10,000 gallons per year."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Fast food restaurants

"Improve your health and wallet by not eating fast food often. It may be cheap, but it adds up, especially if you eat out a few times per week. Instead, spend the money and the time to grocery shop and prepare meals."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Cool drafts

"Save on heating and electric bills by fixing drafts and keep the warmth and cool in your home during the winter and summer."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Unnecessary data phone plans

"Unless you need unlimited data for work, you should not spend much on your cell phone bill. I save a ton of money on my cell phone bill by using Republic Wireless."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Pet food

"You may not be able to cut out this expense completely if you have pets, but you can score free cans of pet food with coupons occasionally so you won't have to spend as much."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Buying lunch

"Sometimes you're running late for work and don't have time to pack a lunch. Buying lunch often costs much more than preparing and bring a meal to work. Spend some time planning, purchasing and preparing meals ahead of time so they're ready to go, even when you're in a hurry."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Leaving electronics plugged in

"Even though you may not use them often, electronics that are plugged in still consume energy. Unplug appliances you don't you often and keep other electronics on a power strip, turning them off when not in use."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Prepared grocery store meals

"When you do go grocery shopping, sometimes the already-prepped sub or diced fruits and veggies tempt you to buy them and save time, but you'll be paying top dollar for those products. Plan a list ahead of time and buy the individual food items, then spend the time prepping them yourself in order to save.

If you have trouble making grocery lists and figuring out what you're going to eat each day, I'd highly recommend trying out the $5 Meal Plan so you can receive healthy meal plans and recipes to your inbox."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Vending machine snacks

"Not only are these snacks typically unhealthy (there goes your healthy habit), they are typically much more expensive than their grocery store counterparts. If you find yourself buying vending machine snacks, try to save the money instead and see how much you have leftover at the end of the month. You can probably invest it."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Transportation

"When you're heading out and can't or don't want to drive, consider calling Uber or Lyft instead of calling a cab so you can save money on the ride. You can use my link to get $20 off your first Uber ride."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Brand name items

"Save money by skipping on the brand names, like medicine, toiletries, and certain foods. Remember that healthier options with fewer additives may cost more and in that case they may be worth it. Otherwise, generic is the way to go."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Buying smaller/single packs

"Save money by skipping on the brand names, like medicine, toiletries, and certain foods. Remember that healthier options with fewer additives may cost more and in that case they may be worth it. Otherwise, generic is the way to go."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Purchasing paper towels/paper napkins

"You are purchasing these to eventually throw them out. Save on the waste and save money by buying reusable, washable towels and napkins. Your wallet and the environment will thank you."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Paying extra for night time movie showings

"Primetime showings are typically 2x higher than those during the day. Go to morning matinees or take advantage of weekly specials ($5 movie nights during the week)."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

Movie theater food

"Often times, movie theater food can cost more than the ticket to get in. Try to keep food purchases to a minimum when you can or eat a filling meal before you go see a movie."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

DVDs and On Demand

"Instead of spending money on purchasing the movie, subscribe to streaming services and find an alternative or go to your local library."

Credit: My Debt Epiphany

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4. Keeping secrets and hiding money

 

In a 2016 survey from the National Endowment for Financial Education, 42 percent of Americans admitted to financial infidelity. That could mean they’re opening accounts without their partner’s knowledge, hiding purchases or squirreling away money on the side.

If you want your marriage to have staying power, stop the secrets. The survey found 75 percent of those in situations where there is financial deception say the lying has affected their relationship.

What’s more, hiding money can signal a deeper problem. If you don’t feel as though you can be upfront with your spouse about finances, you need to do some soul-searching, figure out why and address that problem.

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5. Leaving bills in the hands of one person

 

It’s harder to have money secrets if you work together to pay the bills.

On a practical level, it may make sense to have one person writing the checks and managing the online bill-paying schedule. But that doesn’t mean the other spouse should be left out in the cold.

Couples may find a monthly meeting is a good time to review account balances and look ahead for irregular expenses. This can also be a time to tweak savings goals and re-evaluate spending habits.

If your spouse bristles at the thought of being involved in the budgeting process, at least print up account information and hand it to your spouse, along with a monthly snapshot of your current budget and spending.

 

6. Neglecting to plan for the long term

 

It is important to discuss long-range needs such as college, retirement and long-term care.

Failing to do so might not end your marriage, but it could seriously alter it. There may be no retirement home in Florida or no RV in which to travel the country. Without proper preparation, you may find your golden years together are significantly different from what you envisioned on your wedding day.

7. Letting emotions overtake money decisions

Money can be a highly emotional topic, and the worst mistake you can make is to turn your family finances into a weapon to be used against your spouse.

Yes, he may have blown the last of the spending money on a video game. But running out to retaliate with your own shopping spree not only damages your relationship, it’s also a dumb financial move.

Another no-no is shaming your spouse over money spent, or a lack of income earned. These sorts of behaviors cause resentment and breed mistrust, both of which can be the downfall of your marriage.

Treat your spouse with dignity and respect. You can’t control your spouse, but responding with grace and compassion may provide the grease needed to open a constructive dialogue.

How do you and your spouse handle money? Let us know by commenting below or on our Facebook page

More from Money Talks News: 
6 Easy Ways To Get Out Of Debt 
Two Savings Accounts That Pay 10x What Your Bank Pays 
5 Reasons To Refinance That Every Homeowner Should Know

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