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Article By: Cara Palmer
To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until debt does us part.” These may not be your vows, but they signify what many couples go through every day in America. If you’ve ever argued with your partner over money, you are not alone.
A 2015 survey about relationships by SunTrust singled out finances as the top cause of stress in many relationships. Half of the married people admit to spending and saving differently than their spouses. A whopping 70 percent of divorce can be traced back to money problems. These statistics prove that money is a big problem in many relationships.
Don’t let money issues come between you and your spouse. With constant communication and a deep understanding of each other’s values and beliefs, you and your significant other can tackle money problems together. That’s what this post is all about – giving you helpful tips for your financial relationship.
Managing finances when you’re married can be tricky. Everyone spends and saves differently. You may be a devoted saver – you prefer holding onto your money. Your partner may be a big spender who loves splurging on the latest designer outfits. Or maybe one of you is goal-oriented and always plans before deciding to spend money on something while the other enjoys impulse shopping.
Differing beliefs can be a recipe for disaster in a relationship if not addressed. Studies show that we inherit and develop beliefs, values, and attitudes about money from people that surrounded us growing up, how they managed their funds and how they talked about money. These people can be your parents, peers or role models. When partners have different money habits, this can lead to disagreements.
Avoiding The Communication Breakdown – Talk About Money Often and Openly
Sometimes couples don’t talk about money because they’re afraid it will lead to a fight. Unfortunately, you can’t make problems go away by not talking about them –in some cases, not talking about it may cause the problem to get bigger, creating an even bigger fight than if you had discussed the issue in the first place
Instead, have frequent conversations about money. Discuss the expenses that will be coming up and how you’re going to pay for them. Maybe you’re going to need a new appliance soon, or one of the kids needs braces- discuss the payments that will be coming up.
The more you talk about money, the easier it gets to have a calm, productive conversation. Equally important, you’ll learn to come to an agreement and compromise long before you have serious issues Early on in many relationships, most couples sit down to talk about their views on children, marriage, work, and life in general. It’s almost as if discussing financial goals and beliefs is forbidden.
Whether you’ve been dating or married for six months or 6 years, you should talk about everything that affects your finances. You can discuss money problems by breaking them down into two parts: making money and spending money.
Here are some topics you can discuss:
What are your short-term and long-term financial goals?
What are your views about saving and spending?
Do you have any fears about money?
Schedule something fun after the talk to make the money date feel less like a chore. If the discussion becomes heated, take a break and revisit the topics later.
Be a Team – Share Major Financial Responsibilities
Financial decision-making in a relationship should be a joint venture. Often, the primary breadwinner is in charge of the finances. Maybe one partner handles everyday household spending like budgeting for groceries and utility bills, while the other one is responsible for for the long-term management of the finances. It’s okay to divide the roles as long as you’re both in agreement about your financial goals.
No matter how uninterested one partner might be in managing the finances, letting one partner control all the money is not a good idea. Agreeing on and assigning these financial responsibilities will save you lots of headaches and arguments in the future. Also, in the unfortunate event that something happens to one of you, the other one will know what to do.
Create A Budget Together
The most common reason for financial disputes is the idea that one partner is in charge of all the finances – making the other one feel left out. While one partner gets to ‘play’ with all ‘their’ money, the other one has to has to work extra hard to meet financial goals. Instead of arguing, create a budget that allows you to set aside some “play money.” I know I know; the word budget is not your favorite word. But having some play money in the budget will give you both some spending freedom.
Make Significant Financial Decisions Together (And Learn to Compromise)
Successful relationships are built on compromise. You may be married, but each of you has a different opinion when it comes to money matters. Making joint financial decisions can be difficult when you feel like your partner does not see things your way. Maybe you feel like you could solve all your money problems if your partner would listen.
To avoid problems, try to understand your partner’s attitude and approach towards money. This way, you’ll find areas where you can both agree. Finding common ground is what compromise is all about. You’ll be able to identify potential problems way before they happen and have a better understanding of your spouse’s beliefs.
In the end, you will realize that compromise works to both of your benefits. When you’re tempted to fight, try asking yourself;
Am I fighting about this because it means the world to me or because my ego won’t allow me to compromise?
Will this decision matter in 6 months or a year?
How will this decision impact my family and me in the long-term?
By asking yourself these three simple questions, you will notice a shift in your perception of many financial decisions.
Find the Financial Management Method that Works for You
Disagreements with your spouse over the budget are normal. The key for working through your finances successfully is learning how your different ideas on funds can complement one another. There’s no denying that men and women look at money differently. My husband and I are no exception, we’ve worked hard to be on the same page about money.
While I am responsible for paying the bills and balancing the checkbook, we make all financial decisions together. Early on in our marriage, just like other couples, we spent a considerable amount of time talking about our hopes, dreams, and aspirations. Afterward, we decided to map out a financial plan to guide us in achieving our goals. We set aside time every week to discuss money matters.
At the end of every month, we go over the cash flow statement from our rental properties to determine whether we’re still on track or not. We understand that we can’t always agree on everything, but we allow each other to express our point of view before making any decisions. Sometimes the decision goes my way and sometimes his. Ultimately we both have the same financial goals, and that makes it easier to agree.
Our style may not work for you and your partner, and that’s okay. There is no shame in trying and failing. That means you have found one way that doesn’t work, and your ready to try another strategy.
Financial mistakes to avoid:
- Leaving one partner to handle all the finances.
- Avoiding money talk with your partner.
- Not being transparent about each other’s finances.
- Rushing decisions before both parties agree.
- Allowing financial differences to come between you and your partner.
- Not creating a budget.
About The Author
Cara Palmer paid off over $20k of debt before she and her husband started buying rental properties. They currently own six rental properties, and Cara runs her blog where she writes about real estate and smart money tips. You can find more tips for making and saving money on CaraPalmer.com.