Note: This is the second of a two-part series. Click here for part one

Money issues have the potential to ruin or define a marriage like few other things, because money is not simply about money.  Money symbolizes much about how well we trust, how true your commitment is, how deeply we feel loved and valued, and how much power and control we exercise over our lives.  So says Jenkins, Stanley, Bailey and Markmen in You Paid How Much For That?.

If it turns out that your system of investing, saving, spending or handling finances isn’t working for you, then you need to talk to your partner about what you would like differently.  Here are some topics Jenkins, Stanley, Bailey and Markmen recommend you cover:

  • Who’s in charge of paying the bills?  Do you want to keep it that way?
  • Do you pay your bills as they come in, or do you save them up and pay them once a month?
  • Is the one balancing the checkbook, savings and other accounts comfortable with this task?  Does the task need to be reassigned?
  • Is there a problem with remembering to record ATM withdrawals or checks written?  How do you want to solve that problem?
  • Who checks the bills for accuracy every month?  If there is a discrepancy, who calls the company and gets the bill fixed?
  • What is happening to your investment and retirement accounts?
  • Are you paying all your bills on time?
  • Do you incur finance charges on credit cards?
  • Have you bounced any checks lately?
  • Have you been paying your taxes on time?
  • Do you know how much you pay for utilities, groceries, clothes and other items each month?
  • What do each of you think—or fear—the effects that your level of debt will have in the long term?  Does your debt level or your reasons for using credit cause tension or stress between the two of you?  Is there a negative impact on your relationship?  Do you think debt might cause problems for you in the future?  Is one of you more prone to incur debt than the other?
  • Do you know how much tax you actually paid last year?  Do the two of you share a similar philosophy in how aggressive you want to be in claiming deductions?
  • Do you have any major decisions for which knowing more about the tax consequences might save you some serious money?  What do you need to learn more about?

Now answer and discuss the following questions:

  1. When I think about how much money we have in our savings account, I feel….
  2. When I think about how much money we need in order to retire, I feel…
  3. I don’t have any idea how much money we will need to retire.  I feel….
  4. When I think about saving, I am afraid that I will…
  5. I am not willing to give up…
  6. I’m afraid that…
  7. I hope that in the future we can…
  8. I am optimistic that we can…
  9. I want to learn more about…
  10. I’d like to set short term financial goals such as…

Money issues can be resolved.  But expect it to take hard work for the two of you as a couple.

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