How to control your finances and keep money from messing up your marriage

So What's A Couple To Do?

Kitty Bressington is a financial adviser in Rochester, N.Y., who specializes in helping couples. First, she says, you need to "get all of the issues out on the table, work through a budget." That means coming to some agreement on "yours, mine, ours." Couples often need to set spending limits.

"Those all come from being able to talk about money, which as a society we're not very good at," Bressington says.

Keeping all your money separate is probably the wrong approach, Bressington says, but she also doesn't think it's a good idea for a couple to just throw all their money together in one account and hope for the best.

The exact structure depends on the particular couple. But she recommends the following as a good way to organize your finances:
  1. Set up a joint account to cover the basic bills.
  2. Set up a plan with automatic contributions to a retirement account, college savings account and other long-term savings goals.
  3. Then, each partner in the couple should get a set amount of spending or "fun" money every month that's discretionary.
"If you decide [the fun money is], say, $250 a month, and that fits within your budget, and one person wants to blow his $250 and the other person wants to save her $250, then that's OK because you've set those ground rules," Bressington says.

She advises many couples to take out that spending money in cash — no credit cards.

Also, many experts say if you go to a financial adviser, pick one who works for a simple "fee only" (an actual, legally binding designation) — unlike many who make commissions steering you into pricey mutual funds.

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