Personal Finance

How Much Should You Spend Without Telling Your Spouse?

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Men and women have very different opinions on money in marriage. When asked how much they would spend before telling their spouses, men gave a figure more than three times the amount women gave, in a survey of married people by Experian Consumer Services.

On average, men said they’d spend a maximum of $1,231 before consulting their spouses, while the average limit among women was $396. That’s a huge difference. Perhaps this disparity wouldn’t be an issue in some marriages, but spending disagreements are likely problematic in others. A Utah State University researcher found money fights are the top predictor of divorce, so relationships would really benefit from an agreement on how to deal with finances.

Even with that stark contrast in spending communication, 85% of the survey respondents said they agree with their spouses on how to use credit. Of those people, 88% regularly talk about credit use and 88% review their financial goals together each month. Before getting married, most people discuss income, spending habits, debt, financial goals and retirement, but credit scores don’t often come up in premarital conversation. Only 43% of people discuss credit scores before getting married.

It doesn’t get much better after tying the knot: Just 43% of people talked about credit scores after getting married, and 14% said they never broached the subject. No matter the couple’s financial goals — getting a mortgage, buying a car or sending kids to college — credit will almost certainly play a role in getting there.

Talking about credit easily fits into the regular conversations couples have about budgeting. If you sit down and go over financial goals on a monthly basis, adding a credit checkup to that process would be a simple, yet helpful, change. Through Credit.com, you and your spouse can each get two of your credit scores for free every 30 days, and you’ll also get a snapshot of what’s helping or hurting your credit standing and how you can take steps to improve it.

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