How to financially divorce-proof your marriage

Sometimes after vows are exchanged, two become one ‘til debt do they part.

Sometimes after vows are exchanged, two become one ‘til debt do they part.

“Unfortunately in my practice I hear about it often”, says Financial & Retirement Income Planning Professional Cathy DeWitt Dunn.

CPA and Wealth Fulfillment Strategist Holly Signorelli concurs. She too has seen many instances where money problems end in divorce or unhealthy silence.

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“They stopped talking about money because every time they talked about money it became a fight,” Signorelli says.

A Money Magazine survey in 2014 found 70% of married people argue about money - more than household chores, togetherness, even sex. And a SunTrust Bank poll in 2015 found 35% of couples experiencing stress say finances are the cause.

But not Bob and Gail Schultz.

“I couldn’t imagine fighting with him over money because we have never done it,” Gail says. Together for 44 years, they say they’ve been an open book - an open checkbook, really - from day one. “I told him the first thing…I want to be honest with everything.”

Communication among couples is key, says Signorelli. “They need to be more comfortable with the subject of money.” She and Dewitt Dunn offer some recommendations for couples:

Meet regularly to talk about all finances; perhaps once a month. Income, expenditures, bills, and financial goals should all be on the table.

Have a budget. Without a blueprint, it’s hard to keep control of spending, and it’s certainly hard to save money.

Allow allowances. Even when couples have joint financial accounts, these experts say it’s a good idea for both partners to have discretionary money to spend without having to ask permission. DeWitt Dunn explains, “It’s nice to have a little account on the side that is yours that you can treat or reward yourself; but you are doing that with the approval of your spouse.”

For those who have exchanged vows, these experts say adhering to those simple guidelines could help make marriage richer rather than poorer, with more good times than bad.

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