What is the biggest issue that causes arguments between couples? You guessed it, money. Couples may argue over sex, kids and chores but money is the most divisive issue for married couples. Consider these 7 tips to make talking about money easier, more friendly and less argumentative.
Each person comes into a marriage or relationship with their unique experiences with money, feelings about money and assigned values for money.
Ideally couples will discuss money just like other big issues like whether or not you want children and how many and where you live but it’s never too late to start talking about money as a couple. Whether you’re newly weds, have a few notches in the marriage belt or just celebrated your 25th wedding anniversary, you can use these tips for talking to your spouse about money.
In our relationship, my husband and I sat down before the marriage and discussed the day-to-day basics.
Here are some of the topics to discuss:
Who will pay the bills?
In our case, we my husband my husband would pay the monthly bills.
How much can be spent without discussing the matter?
In our case we decided on $50.00 and agreed that all large purchases like a car or television would be made jointly.
How often will the two of you sit down and go over money matters?
We decided on monthly money updates and discussions.
Tip for Talking about Money with your Spouse #1:
Schedule a regular “business meeting.” Put it on the calendar, circle it in red, add an alarm to you cell phone or whatever you need to do to make sure you sit down together to discuss your finances on a regular basis. Clear away all distractions from televisions to Blackberries. Make this a no interruptions time.
Tip for Talking about Money with your Spouse #2:
Come to your financial meeting prepared. Have your list of bills and income organized and bring whatever you need from a calculator, pen and paper or computer.
Tips for Talking about Money with your Spouse #3:
Be willing to be honest, open, and very clear about your expectations, concerns or desires. Often the two of you will need to compromise but by setting clear goals you’re more likely to successful work together to meet those goals.
Tips for Talking about Money with your Spouse #4:
Treat this as a business meeting as much as possible. Spouses are partners. Money is an emotional topic but try to avoid the “blame game” and the “punishments.” You know the “if you hadn’t done this…” and the “well now you’ll have to do that.”
Of course it is healthy to talk about how broken financial ground rules make you feel, as in “I felt ______when you bought the ______ and we hadn’t discussed it.” You can share your feelings with out attacking, which is never constructive. Keep the tone of your meeting courteous and respectful and keep in mind that you are a team.
Tips for Talking about Money with your Spouse #5:
Create a monthly family budget. Decide together what has to be cut if the ends don’t meet each month. On the other hand, if there is extra money decide together which debt should be paid off first, how much should be put away for savings or donated to charity.
Tips for Talking about Money with your Spouse #6:
Be willing to take “baby steps” and have patience. It is hard to change a lifetime of spending habits overnight. Make changes in reasonable increments like saving $50.00 more this month or spending $50.00 less in an area this month. Know your ultimate goal but don’t expect a complete money makeover overnight.
Tips for Talking about Money with your Spouse #7:
As in all areas of marriage, don’t take one another for granted. Show appreciation for contributions towards your financial goals whether it is a spouse working overtime, paying the bills (maybe while you watched a movie) or stretching the grocery money with creative meals.
I believe many couples will find that these tips and our experiences can help you to not only mange your money more successfully but can also strengthen your marriage.