Have you ever fought with your significant other about money? Even if arguments are rare, your relationship has probably felt the tension that finances can cause. A study from the American Psychological Association found that money was the leading cause of stress among Americans. (1) That stress often escalates when you add in a second party who might have different ideas about how to handle money.
But just because the tension is there, turning a blind eye to the issue of finances in your relationships is not the answer.
Emotions, Opinions, And Personality, Oh My!
Why does it seem impossible for money and love to peacefully coexist? For one, finances tend to stir up plenty of emotions and cause stress in everyday life, so couples may try to keep the peace by avoiding the topic entirely. In addition, everyone has their own opinion on how to manage money and most of us also have a unique financial personality. Some of us are savers, some are spenders. Some of us may be conservative, while others are free spirits. These differences can cause friction and discord, which then affects all other aspects of the relationship.
But no matter what the statistics tell us, money doesn’t have to be a stress point in a relationship. Here are a few simple strategies that may help couples avoid financial friction.
Unfortunately, honesty regarding money isn’t a guarantee in a relationship. 31% of married adults admit to potentially deceitful financial behavior. (2) It’s important for both partners to offer full disclosure of their finances and be open about expenses, regardless of whether you’re married or you live together, have joint accounts or separate bank accounts. You and your spouse should be aware of how you spend your money, especially when it comes to significant expenses, loans, or ongoing fees. Studies show that around 49% of financial arguments are about unexpected expenses. (3) By maintaining an open line of communication regarding spending habits and upcoming bills, you may be able to avoid such confrontations.
Watch Your Timing
Since conversations about money are often emotionally charged, choose a time to talk about your financial situation or make decisions when both of you are at your best. Don’t wait until the end of a long, stressful day or right before you have to walk out the door. It’s also important for you to be preemptive, having discussions to set boundaries and expectations to avoid future problems. In other words, don’t wait until one of you splurges on a new TV or you go over budget on a vacation to set limits on spending.
Cater To Your Strengths, But Work As A Team
Most often, one spouse acts as the Chief Financial Officer of the household, managing all bills, budgets, savings, investments, and insurance policies. However, it can be helpful for both partners to understand their financial situation. If time allows, sit down together once a month for a financial check-in to review credit card statements, account transactions, and other bills and check for any possible errors. Ongoing input from both partners will strengthen your relationship and create a true partnership.
Find What Works For You
You don’t have to go far to find financial advice, but not every system or philosophy will work for your relationship. Glean ideas from experts, family members, or friends, but be flexible, allowing yourself to experiment and find a financial framework in which you both can thrive. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different methods of budgeting, saving, or debt payoff, and remember that as life changes, you may need to adapt your finances to your new circumstances.
Set aside a portion of pocket money that you and your spouse can each spend every month on something you love, whether it’s a massage, a round of golf, or a steak dinner. Along with saving for long-term goals, set small objectives you can reasonably accomplish each month and celebrate your success.
Bring In A Third Party
Sometimes the best way to ease money tensions is to work with an objective third party, whether that’s a financial professional, a marriage counselor, or both. A financial professional can work with you and your spouse to review your financial landscape, identify any gaps in your insurance coverage, assist you in establishing short-term and long-term goals, help you stay on track, and provide professional and knowledgeable advice.
Although the topic of finance can occasionally cause tension, money doesn’t have to become a constant source of concern in a relationship. Invest the time to address spending habits and savings goals, uphold transparency regarding purchases, and communicate effectively.
How We Can Help
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