Do you and your partner discuss money? It’s at the top of the list of reasons why couples fight and with good reason. According to a study by SunTrust, finances are the number one reason people experience stress in their relationships. And according to the Institute of Divorce Financial Analysis, money is the third leading cause of divorce. With such dismal statistics, is it any wonder more couples don’t discuss finances?
But Forbes magazine stresses that it’s crucial for couples to make their money issues a priority. Here are eight tips for couples who don’t want to split up over money.
Don’t spend too much on the wedding. Most young couples don’t have the $30,000 that the average wedding costs. Start off small and then save up for the fifth or tenth-anniversary bash.
Get it all out in the open. It may not be the most comfortable conversation you ever have, but it’s important that both partners disclose the good, like income sources and investments and the bad, like loans, debts, and any other financial obligations.
Understand each other’s spending habits. Talk about how you were raised in relation to money. Are you frugal or a big spender? Do you know how to budget? Forbes recommends taking the quiz on moneyharmony.com to find out your money personality and also as a good conversation starter.
Work toward the same goal. Set aside time every year to assess finances and look to the future. Are your goals still the same as last year? Are you on the path to meet those goals? It’s important to be on the same page and for both partners to know what’s going on.
Have a system for spending. Decide what purchases should be discussed ahead of time (usually these are big ticket items) and set a budget or spending limit for smaller ticket items like food, clothing, and household goods.
Make a budget. And then stick to it. It’s easier said than done and not exactly fun but budgeting really can take the hassle and confusion out of your family’s finances. Life is easier when everyone knows where the money is going.
Don’t keep spending secrets from your spouse. Think how you’d feel if you found out your partner had been spending large sums of money and not telling you. It’s a recipe for disaster.
Treat your partner how you want to be treated. Seems easy enough but the longer you’re married, the more difficult this sometimes becomes. You may still argue about money but it’s HOW you argue that’s important. Do your best not to use negative or accusatory language and discuss with respect. Bring in a third party you trust if the fights about money are close to derailing your marriage. A financial planner, couple’s counselor, or if you’re religious, a clergy member are all good choices.
Following these tips won’t guarantee you never fight about money but at least you’ll know you’ve done the right things to set your marriage up to succeed, at least financially.