Money can be an uncomfortable conversation for many, especially when it pertains to family finances. Money is commonly cited as one of the number one reasons couples argue over money, and a survey by the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts found that 22 percent of respondents divorced because of the topic.
While money may not always be a favorite subject to discuss, it is necessary.
But, conversations about money management don’t have to be stressful. Self-reflection and a team-based mindset can help you and your spouse or partner stop arguing over money.
Below are six steps you and your spouse can take to have more productive conversations about money management.
Step 1: Understand Your Spouse’s Views on Money
Much like anything else, you and your spouse have different ways of handling things. So your viewpoints about money management and budgeting are likely to be different as well.
For example, if you have a personality that values saving, and your spouse is more of a spender, then it makes sense that you may clash over money matters.
Despite your differences, you both must understand each other’s relationship with money and discuss your varying outlooks. Research has shown that couples who discuss difficult situations are ten times happier than those who don’t. So, don’t shy away from discussing each of your different approaches to money. Acknowledging this information will help you move toward becoming a better team.
Step 2: Get to Know Your Relationship—and Shortcomings—with Money
Money is a tool, but the relationship that we have with it can impact how we handle our finances. Your feelings about money can also affect your comfort level with talking about financial matters. For example, if you grew up in a household where your parents were always arguing over money, it makes sense that you would feel anxious regarding finances. Taking time to understand your feelings about money allows you to develop strategies to address negative emotions.
Step 3: Treat Money Management Like a Team Effort
When it comes to money, you and your partner need to be on the same page. Once you understand each other’s views about money management, you can become a better team.
One great way to do this is to develop financial goals that you both can work toward together. That could be saving three to six months of income, taking financial management classes, or working on a budget together. Your finances should be a team endeavor, so work on seeing each other as a partner.
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Step 4: Seek Out Financial Education
All of us had to start somewhere. No one is born a money management expert. Committing to learning about good money management tactics enables you and your spouse to start something together.
It also puts you on equal footing, as you are both learning about the same tactics and financial best practices together. Fortunately, many financial education classes discuss family and couples-related money management topics. This information can help you work better together regarding finances.
Step 5: Be Honest About Money
It’s hard to trust—or gain the trust of—your spouse if there are financial secrets. Both of you must be honest about your finances.
Whether one of you has a large amount of debt or a secret savings account, you cannot work together unless you are transparent. A recent survey by creditcards.com found that 27 percent of respondents felt that financial infidelity was worse than physical cheating. Clearly, financial dishonesty can sincerely violate trust – and that’s not a good thing for any healthy relationship.
Again, money management is a team effort, and you cannot help each other do better if you don’t know each of your starting points.
Step 6: Don’t Live Beyond Your Means
Both of you may be bringing in income. Consequently, it is tempting to think that you have more money to spend than you actually do. When you don’t commit to living below your means, it is easy for your budget to become strained and for the two of you to argue over money.
That overpriced home, expensive car note, or those frequent online purchases can cause stress if your income changes, or an emergency expense arises. Making things like savings and retirement a priority can ease the financial burden, which can decrease disagreements.
Understand That Coming Together Benefits You Both
Again, money management is a team sport. Both of you need to be in sync when it comes to agreeing on finances.
You are not going to agree all the time, but you both must commit to working together and uniting behind common financial goals or shared objectives.
The more you see eye-to-eye about finances, the faster you can pay off debt, boost your savings, save for retirement, and have healthier relationships with money.