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Businesses that are successful create priorities and decide where to focus their resources. A married couple should also do this. This means creating a business plan where you determine how much you’ll be saving for the future such as retirement, an emergency fund and college costs. Your business plan also needs to include how you’ll be for paying for the past like student loans, any credit card debts and your mortgage. Finally, you'll need to plan how you’ll pay your monthly bills and still have money left over for fun.
You may find that you don't have enough money to achieve all your goals. If this is the case, you'll need to decide which ones are the most crucial and how to divide up your income among them.
Do periodic reviews
No successful business will create a business plan and then follow it blindly for an entire year. It will review its business plan periodically to make sure that changing circumstances haven't made parts of it out-of-date. The two of you should do the same. Instead of letting your "business plan" sit in a drawer you need to dust it off several times a year and review it so you will see if you need to make changes.
Decide who's the CFO of your marriage
Companies would never have more than one CFO or chief financial officer. The odds are that one of you is better at handling the day-to-day financial details of life such as bill paying and check writing. Make that person your CFO with the responsibility for handling these chores as this will make sure they get done. In addition, your CFO – whether it's you or your partner – may be the one that shops for insurance, prepares the tax returns and researches large purchases.
But that person doesn’t make all the financial decisions all by him or herself. In the world of business, the CFO reports to a Board of Directors. In a marriage the two of you are the Board of Directors and should be making all the big decisions together.
Practice full disclosure
Companies that are publicly traded are required by law to keep their shareholders informed using quarterly financial statements, annual reports and announcements of their major events. While the two of you won't need to keep a federally-mandated schedule, you should have regular meetings where you sit down and review your finances.
If you're going to make good financial decisions together you need to practice full disclosure. Unfortunately, a poll done recently by Harris for NerdWallet discovered that about 20% of us that are in a relationship with a partner who’s saving for retirement have no idea how much their partner has saved. This is not only a lack of transparency in the relationship it's really a deliberate dishonesty.
When one of you has secret accounts, is concealing purchases or hiding debts this undermines both trust and intimacy. You can have separate accounts and separate amounts of spending money but you should never lie about your finances in order to avoid a fight. When this happens it's a big red flag that there's something wrong that the two of you need to discuss.
If you need help
Finally, if you feel you could use some help managing your money, here's a video from the American Institute for Economic Research that offers a lot of good information.