Arguing with your partner over money may just seem like a fact of life, but letting disagreements linger or escalate can be a relationship killer. It’s true – studies have shown the divorce rates increase with greater frequency of fights over money, with those who fight about money nearly every day about 50% more likely to get divorced.
Don’t become part of this statistic. Instead, use these tips to avoid money fights with your spouse so you can both live and save happily and peacefully.
Talk Money Regularly
Open communication is a major key to success in any relationship, and money is no exception to that. Both partners need to be on board with handling major financial decisions.
Once you’re in a relationship that involves sharing money, figuring out some sort of plan is essential. Don’t assume that your partner is a mind-reader or that you’ll just completely figure things out as you go. It’s time to ask big questions like:
- How much debt do you have?
- Do you anticipate any big purchases within the next few years?
- How do you manage your money now?
- Which costs should you share and which should we keep separate?
- Should you have separate or joint bank accounts?
Once you have these questioned answered, you should have some rules in place, especially for making big purchases and other important decisions. Perhaps it’s agreeing to talk before taking out a loan or having a conversation about shifting investment strategies for your child’s college education. Whatever the issue is, be clear to your partner that you would like to be involved in choices that have implications for the whole family.
Whatever you do, don’t keep secrets. While this might seem like a good way to avoid an argument, it’s often not. Spending in secret can turn into much more than a money issue – it can ruin the trust in your relationship. Even if you think you can get away with it, getting caught just once may be worse than dealing with disagreement in the first place.
Get Excited For the Future – Together
There’s much more to money than the drudgery of paying bills. Make your money conversations fun by planning for all the awesome things to come in the future.
Maybe you both dream to move into a bigger house in three years’ time, or you hope to retire to foreign country a little further down the line. Don’t be afraid to dream big and get excited for spending your hard-earned cash on things you’ll both enjoy. Not only is it fun to imagine, but if you’re having trouble making sacrifices now, setting exciting goals for your future together is the best way to conquer that.
While one person in a relationship may be a better money manager than the other, both should be involved in at least some aspects of financial planning.
If you’re in charge of 100% of the tasks, your partner may be totally in the dark about where you stand financially and not understand why you’re stressed about money. Additionally, the responsibility may eventually get overwhelming if just one person has to handle all the bills.
Split up tasks so that each person has to take care of something on a regular basis. This could be as easy as one person taking care of mortgage and insurance payments while the other is in charge of handling utilities and payments for vehicles.
If trying to figure it all out on your own is putting a strain on your relationship, seek out professional help. There are a variety of professionals who can help you manage your money, like financial planners, accountants, and credit counselors. While you’ll have to pay for these services, the combination of getting on the right track and easing the tension in your relationship could be well worth the cost.
Everyone is going to spend differently. We all have different priorities, and even the person you’re closest to in life isn’t always going to agree with your purchasing or savings decisions. While arguing your point of view may seem like the right thing to do in your mind, the damage and stress from fighting might not be worth it.
Before you argue your point all the way through, decide if the situation really warrants it. If your spouse purchases a new car without talking first, that’s a situation where a serious conversion is needed. But if it’s simply over spending $7 on a burrito without checking first, perhaps it’s best just to let it go rather than turning it into a full-blown fight.
If you’re having trouble letting the situation go, take some time to cool-off before discussing it with your partner. Emotionally-charged arguments often aren’t productive and can easily spiral out of control. Letting both sides cool off means you have have a constructive conversation to figure out what the real issue is on both sides and work to make everyone feel better about the situation.
Another way to compromise and get off each other’s backs is to let each partner have a certain amount of money in the budget to spend however he or she chooses. This is money that’s 100% free of criticism from your partner. Each person will have his or her own money, so arguing about how it’s spent is completely off-limits.
Of course, when it comes to the major items in your budget, you’ll still need to work together to come up with a proper budget and joint strategy to pay the bills.