Loving relationships are built on a foundation of trust. For couples to live happily ever after, they must be able to trust one another with sensitive information, including knowledge of personal finances. If a couple isn’t on the same page – if they’re fighting about money – dark times lie ahead. Jill Gianola, a registered financial advisor with the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, has some advice for how couples can best avoid money arguments.
Know your money personality
Using money wisely means different things to different people. Some see money as a path to short-term happiness, while others view it as a sign of future security. Once you understand how you and your partner view money, you can begin to form a meeting of the minds when it comes to planning your finances. Hopefully, your money personalities are reasonably compatible.
Share feelings and experiences
Rather than using a credit card statement like a cudgel to subdue your overspending mate, come down from the pulpit and share your feelings. Even talk about how you learned about money, and encourage your significant other to do the same.
Set aside a quiet time and place to talk with your partner about money attitudes. This is not the time to drag out the credit card statements or lecture your partner. Instead, talk about how money was handled when you were growing up. Share your fears and talk about what you hope your money will accomplish.
Talk about your savings goals
There are always larger financial goals on the horizon, such as funding a home, buying a car, or preparing for education or retirement. If you stay focused on the long-term goals as a couple, you can more easily commit to saving enough each month to reach those goals within a reasonable time frame. Thinking long term and knowing you can achieve your goals brings a confidence melts away a great deal of stress.
Your own private slush fund
This is nothing nefarious. Each partner should have some of their own money socked away, for them and only them. Use it for eating out with friends, or whatever impulse expenses that don’t fit into the larger budget.
Go for the switcheroo
If your money personality is significantly different than your partner’s, all may not be lost. An exercise in empathy could do the trick. Take a week to switch roles. If beloved is a binger and you’re a hoarder, try some role reversal and see what happens. Once the binger gets a close look at the books, perhaps they’ll see how much damage regularly unchecked impulse can do. Just make sure they pay the bills during the process.
If all else fails, call in the cavalry
If arguing over money simply can’t be helped, a neutral third party may be the answer. A financial planner can help arguing couples to define their goals with greater clarity and lay out an effective strategy. The next step beyond that would be couples therapy, as money probably isn’t the only issue on which you and your mate clash.