Do you how fighting over money ranks as a cause of marital problems? It’s third behind basic incompatibility and infidelity. This means fighting over money causes more marital problems than alcoholism or physical abuse or emotional abuse. On the other hand, fiscal responsibility seems to be a very desirable quality in a spouse. In fact, a study done recently by the Citi Double Cash Card revealed that 78% of the people that were in a committed relationship said they would rather have a partner that was responsible with money than one who was physically attractive.
Do you and your spouse fight over money a lot? There are ways to stop this and here are seven tips that can help.
Have money dates
One of the most important things about couples and money is communication. PR Newswire recently reported that “7% of couples claim they have never discussed finances.” And the Citi Double Cash Card survey we just referenced found that nearly 30% of those who responded said they would like to discuss finances more frequently. However, 70% also said they avoided these talks because they were afraid it would start an argument.
One good answer to this is to plan money dates where you set down at least once a month so the two of you can air your concerns or discuss money problems. This way, if one of you is having a problem over something you can discuss it calmly rather than bringing it up in the heat of the moment. In addition, a money date is a good time to bring up any issues that have been bothering you. One expert has remarked that “The best way for couples to stop fighting over money is to start doing a monthly budget and having a budget meeting each and every month.” In addition to talking about money and any money problems, the two of you should spend some time discussing your debt. This can be especially important when you’re first married so there won’t be any unpleasant surprises involving student loan debts or car payments.
Establish shared goals
According to a study done by the credit-reporting bureau TransUnion only about 37% of married respondents actually share financial decisions equally. While no couple is going to totally agree about every single money issue it’s critical to discuss your long-term goals such as buying a house, retiring and planning for children. When you set goals together and work towards them as a team this can help prevent big money issues from driving you apart. And while this may be obvious you need to do this early on in the marriage before you discover later on that you don’t have the same financial goals.
Learn your partner’s money history
In addition to knowing your spouse’s debt history, you need to know each other’s money perspectives. If you learn your partner’s money history you’ll be able to understand his or her fiscal style. For example, you can ask each other questions such as did your parents talk freely about money or was money a secret. Other good questions to ask include were you involved in financial decisions and were your parents hoarders, savers or spenders? Many experts believe that different money experiences establish the way different individuals handle their finances. You should discuss each of your personal financial philosophies very early on in the marriage as this can help clear up many issues before they even crop up.
If you have serious financial issues the two of you cannot resolve you might ask for input from a third party. Research has shown that couples generally argue more about common everyday expenses than about long-term saving and investing. For example, one of you might think an unnecessary expense is a facial or a round of golf while the other person considers that to be a luxury. This can become serious if one of you refuses to modify your spending. However, amazing changes can occur if the two of you sit down with a third party, discuss your conflicts and get some help in learning better ways to communicate with each other.
Establish a threshold on your personal spending
Another good idea is to set a threshold on each of your personal expenses. For example, you might agree to limit your personal spending to $500 and if you wanted to spend more than that you would consult with your partner. And while it’s not necessary to discuss every little purchase with your spouse you should have rules about spending on large purchases where you would then discuss the potential buy with your spouse. This not only prevents impulse purchases of unnecessary items but also gives both of you more of a sense of control when it comes to money matters.
Have no secret stash
The best relationships are built on trust. However, one study revealed that 25% of the couples surveyed said they never share their monthly bank account PINs, account balances or monthly spending. What’s even worse is that 24% of those that were in committed relationships admitted that they had private accounts that their partners did not know about. It’s okay for each of you to have an individual account but if one of you is secretly stashing away money there can be problems. Those people with secret accounts were more likely to have had financial arguments with their partners in the past year to the tune of 73%. If you want to avoid strife over money it’s critical to openly and honestly, discuss all-important financial issues including your credit scores, debts, and spending habits and be sure to nix any secret stashes.
Make sensible decisions
When it comes to life’s big decisions the critical phrase is “act sensibly.” Many young married couples with a newly-combined income make the mistake of creating unrealistic goals with dreams of buying a bigger house or taking extended vacations without having the financial wherewithal to make this happen. To counter this one expert suggests that you avoid monthly spending that totals more than 25% of your combined income. This way you should be able to put away money in an emergency fund that would tide you over when you hit one of those unexpected incidences in life such as a job loss or a huge medical bill.