It’s no secret that conflicts, especially about money, put a huge strain on any relationship. No matter how strong your love for your partner is, it’s highly likely that couples will commit financial mistakes that can lead to fights and tension. And if money matters are not handled properly, the relationship may be doomed to face a life of never-ending cycle of conflict and struggle.
So, what are the common financial blunders that couples tend to make? Here are some of the biggest offenders that may trigger long arguments, and how you can deal with them before they escalate into full-fledged fights.
#1 Avoiding Little, Big Money Talks
Financial issues are very tricky subjects, that’s why couples fail to address them early on in their relationship. It definitely won’t be easy, but it’s important to have candid and direct conversations about money as early as possible. This exercise will not only enable those in relationships to have a clearer picture of each one’s financial visions but will also help you and your partner prioritize what’s most important to both of you as a couple.
Fully disclose financial situations before you and your significant other tie the knot. This includes talking about income sources, financial assets, obligations, outstanding debts, loans, investments, and the like. While the topics may be serious, it doesn’t mean that you can’t put the fun into money talks. Make your regular discussion something that you and your partner look forward to as a time to get to know each other better and strengthen your bond.
#2 Not Understanding Your Partner’s Money Values, Mindsets, and Styles
When you and your partner talk about money more freely, you’ll begin to discover some precise reasons why he or she is feeling a certain way about finances. Try to dig deep into your significant other’s money history—the stories and experiences that shaped their thoughts and opinions about money growing up.
Understanding the root and exploring the financial motivations of your spouse’s behavior will help you see their responses in a different light, and maybe shift your reaction from anger and blame to compassion.
More often than not, couples have mismatched money styles. One may either be a spender, saver, hoarder, amasser, or avoider. No matter how different your money mindsets and techniques are, the way to overcome them is to find a compromise that works for both of you.
Instead of trying to change or having your styles work against each other, be united and work as a team. Acknowledge your partner’s financial strengths and adapt your money styles in a way that works for your relationship. The key is to row in the same direction: outline your individual needs and expectations before coming to a final financial decision.
#3 Harboring Financial Secrets
It’s true that you are not expected to disclose every purchase to your partner, but keeping money secrets is tantamount to betrayal of trust. Unfortunately, financial infidelity is common. Most people in a relationship lie about money matters—from hiding those hefty credit card purchases to concealing checking, savings, and other financial accounts.
There’s no better time than now to let your partner know about any lingering money concerns. The fact is, the partner who gets deceived will inevitably find out in the long run, no matter how much the other hides the truth. Avoid serious marital problems by trusting your partner with your finances. Don’t wait for the revelation to come as a huge shock and eventually lead to emotional issues down the line.
#4 Failing to Create—and Stick with—A Financial Game Plan
Creating and maintaining a household budget is a very tedious task, but without it, couples have no chance of meeting the goals they have developed together. This will entail a lot of discipline and sacrifice from both sides, but the long-term rewards will be worth it in the end.
A financial plan gets couples moving in the same direction and prevents the marital mayhem that happens when one or both partners are in the dark about where their money is going. There’s nothing like the feeling of being able to retire seamlessly and invest in properties you’ve both been dreaming of—all because you committed as a couple to plan and review your lives thoroughly.
Discussing and making a financial game plan is simply the first step. The keys to achieving your goals are to follow through and help each other stick to your agreed budget. It won’t work if one or the other keeps giving in to the temptation to spend.
Create ground rules to keep yourselves accountable to each other. This will determine, for instance, what purchases need to be discussed or what the reasonable spending limit is on household items. It is also an effective way to boost your maturity to spend as a couple and keep your financial goals in check. Take advantage of online tools and apps that can automatically track your accounts and transactions so you can see how you’re progressing.
#5 Waiting Until It’s Too Late to Discuss Children
It’s never too early to talk about children and child support. Several critical financial decisions—from the type of home you’ll buy and the neighborhood you choose to live in down to the nitty-gritty of the household income—will highly be affected by whether or not and when you both decide to have kids.
It’s better to set expectations early on, so it will not be challenging to make the right choices when it comes to saving up for the little ones. Plan how much to allot for birthday gifts and allowance, where to enroll in college, and whether or not to support your child when he or she is already an adult.
#6 Not Being Prepared Enough for The Future
You’ll never know when disasters will strike, so it’s always better to be three steps ahead when it comes to minimizing the risks and dire consequences of financial emergencies. A good first step is to set up that contingency fund as soon as possible. Make sure that it can cover at least one to two months’ worth of expenses so that you’ll have something to dip into in case of job loss, accidents, and other emergencies.
Looking into life insurance policies early on in the relationship also proves beneficial, as it’s often less expensive to get coverage when you’re young and healthy. Thoroughly review the policy you are getting to make sure that it meets all your needs and that it covers your spouse, kids, and other dependents in a way that allows them to maintain the same lifestyle.
Develop a long-term strategy for saving and investing that reflects your combined aspirations as a couple. Couples often struggle to reach a mutual decision on investing because they lack consistent communication. Both of you must learn to give a little and take a little and be open to investment options that you may be uncomfortable with.
Prioritizing your goals into short-, medium- and long-term horizons will also help you decide how you want to invest. It is highly likely that you and your significant other will have different emotional attitudes to risks. There is always one who wants to take more risk than the other, and this is the best time in the relationship to take compromise to new heights.
A good strategy is to be more conservative when investing in the stock market. It is always better to have some low-risk investments to balance it out than run the risk of fighting over the money lost on aggressive investments.
And, finally, don’t be afraid to talk about death. Draw up a living will and exhaust all measures necessary to give your spouse or long-term partner immediate access to your money. This way, your partner won’t have to wait months for your estate to be settled.
Work as a Team for a Financially-Sound Future
Money can sure be an added burden to any relationship or marriage, but there’s nothing that a strong and connected couple can’t do to achieve financial freedom and success. Remember that it’s your responsibility to align your financial goals with your partner.
No matter where you are on the financial spectrum as a couple, make it a habit to check in with each other to make sure that you are on the same page and still working toward the same goals. Things are constantly changing, and so are your financial expectations and priorities. What matters is that you both set your eyes on the same prize.
It’s important to remember that it’s not so much about the financial disagreements but how you argue about them. The key is to always come from a place of compassion, understanding, and commitment. You will always have your own values, but ultimately, you’ll have to meet in the middle for the relationship to work.
Consistently strive to accept your differences in financial habits, and you’ll eventually be in a better place to financially collaborate and solve problems as a united duo.