How couples can work together when there are money problems
Differences in money management styles can ruin a relationship. Fighting about money is a common reason divorced couples say they couldn’t get along in their marriage. While couples can have money problems, even when they aren’t faced with a troubled economy or financial catastrophe, some financial conflicts between partners or spouses result from real hardships, such as losing a job, having a medical emergency, or experiencing investment losses. Here’s some advice on how couples can adjust their finances and money management when there are money problems.
- begin open and honest communication
- create a personal financial statement
- experiment with different money management systems
- schedule “money dates”
- plan wisely for retirement
- ignore the issues or procrastinate
- keep secrets
- blame your partner
- be afraid to ask for help
- neglect your long-term retirement needs
Do begin open and honest communication
To resolve financial problems in a relationship, it’s important that each person is open and honest about it. Choose a time to begin talking about the financial situation, and make sure it’s a time when you’re both relaxed and less likely to get defensive or upset. Discuss how your current financial state makes you feel, any changes you want to make, how it affects your relationship as a couple, and financial improvements you want to see happen in the future.
Do create a personal financial statement
Before it’s possible to resolve money problems, take the time to fully understand your current financial situation. Start by creating a personal financial statement that lists all your assets and liabilities. Assets are items of value that you own, such as a home, cars, or savings. Liabilities are debts that you owe, such as a mortgage, car loan, or student loan.
Creating a personal financial statement allows you to see the big picture of your finances and discuss challenges or opportunities more openly as a couple.
Do experiment with different money management systems
Sometimes a couple can have financial problems if they don’t use the money management system best for their circumstances or financial needs. For instance, if a couple merges all their money into a joint account, one partner may feel like he/she doesn’t have enough autonomy over his/her money.
Experiment with different ways of handling money to see what works. Blending finances may be right for some couples; others may find that having a combination of joint and separate accounts is the best way to reduce financial tension.
Do schedule “money dates”
Schedule regular “money dates” with your partner to discuss your financial situation. Make each date a time when you can focus on each other without distractions, such as a quiet dinner at home or a walk through a park.
Taking the time for a weekly or monthly “money date” will bring you closer together and allow you to set goals and work on your financial plans as a team.
Do plan wisely for retirement
It’s not uncommon for couples to have very different investing styles. For instance, you may be uncomfortable taking risk, but you have a partner who enjoys investing aggressively. However, fighting about how to invest won’t help build a healthy nest egg for retirement.
Instead, review your investments together or with a professional advisor to make sure you’re contributing enough for a comfortable retirement. Max out available retirement accounts and consider including low-risk products, such as a fixed indexed annuity, to safeguard a portion of your retirement.
Do not ignore the issues or procrastinate
Ignoring money problems only compounds the issues and ultimately makes a bad situation even worse. Your financial issues aren’t likely to go away unless you take action to solve them. Do some research and talk to experts who can help you make sense of any financial problems you’re facing, and help you create a plan you can put into motion immediately.
Do not keep secrets
Keeping financial secrets can ruin a partnership or marriage. Make it a rule to never lie about income, expenses, or losses. If one partner consistently hides money or is deceitful to the other, it may be time to get help from a counselor or financial professional.
Do not blame your partner
While it might feel good to blame your partner for overspending or bringing debt into your relationship, it won’t help your financial situation or your relationship. Instead, focus your energy on developing a plan that will help you solve your money problems, such as increasing your income or cutting unnecessary spending.
Do not be afraid to ask for help
When faced with a money problem it’s easy to be emotional and reactive, instead of strategic. If you can’t create a solid plan to solve your financial challenges on your own, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Consider meeting with a trusted advisor, such as a spiritual leader, financial advisor, attorney, or counselor to get the help you need to solve your financial problems.
Do not neglect your long-term retirement needs
One of the most important long-term financial goals you should have is to create a secure retirement. If money problems are getting in the way of saving for the future, be sure to consult with a qualified investment advisor or financial planner.
It’s easy to find a professional who can help you create an affordable retirement plan that’s diversified with different products, such as annuities, mutual funds, and exchange-traded funds.
Financial success for couples starts with open and honest communication. Everyone has different attitudes and beliefs about money that are shaped by upbringing and personality. Once you understand your attitudes and those of your partner, you’ll be better equipped to find solutions to money problems, avoid potential future conflicts, and plan for retirement.