Family Law

Top 10 Money Tips for a Successful Marriage

By Kristina Otterstrom, Attorney
Financial tips for married couples.

1) Be Open About Your Debts

This seems like a no-brainer, but too often people enter into marriage without a clue about their spouse's total debt or past money troubles. Before you get married, be sure to tell your fiancé about your credit card bills, student loan debts, mortgages, and any other financial liabilities. If you try to keep your debts a secret, it can undermine your spouse’s trust when they're eventually discovered.

2) Spend Wisely

Don’t spend your money frivolously. Marriage and life can be expensive, and no one wants to be married to a spendthrift. Instead, try to purchase quality items that you can use for many years and invest in your future.

3) Clear Big Purchases with Your Spouse

Don’t rush to buy a brand new boat or vacation home without your spouse’s approval. A married couple should make financial decisions together and that includes major purchases. Your spouse should have a say on whether a big ticket item will be worth the financial sacrifice. Since you’d be making the purchase with marital (joint) funds, your spouse should have a say on how money is used.

4) Talk About Money

Make money an ongoing dialogue in your marriage. If you're wondering about your spouse’s take home pay or monthly retirement investments, just ask. Couples that discuss incomes, savings, spending habits, and expectations are usually better at managing their money and ultimately, marriage.

5) Create a Budget

Every couple can benefit from a budget. How seriously you stick to the budget is up to you, but a financial plan can help you and your spouse understand where your family income goes each month. Even more, a clear budget will provide you with ideas on where to cut expenses and save money.

6) Live Within Your Means

Don’t spend more than you make. You’ll be happier with less stuff if it means less debt.

7) Consider Separate Accounts

Some couples keep separate bank accounts from before marriage. As long as your spouse knows about the other account, this can be a good thing. For example, separate accounts can give you or your spouse some freedom in spending, while still helping you stick to a limited budget. Other couples use separate accounts for savings or for family vacations.

8) Invest in Retirement

If you’re hoping for a marriage that lasts the long haul, then invest in retirement early on. A good amount of retirement savings can ease future financial strife.

9) Save for Your Kids

As any parent knows, kids are expensive. Many parents also want to support their children once they’re in college. To avoid a tight budget down the road, you and your spouse can start saving for your children’s college early on and work those contributions into your monthly budget.

10) Be Honest

Strive for honesty in all your financial dealings. When you're honest with your spouse about your spending, you can avoid many unnecessary battles. And if you own a family business, running it fairly and keeping accurate financial records will protect you and your spouse from court litigation or charges of fraud. A couple that can communicate openly about finances is more likely to communicate about other areas of life as well.

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