Yes, you love each other until the end of time. It is easy to get carried away with the romance in the beginning, but at some point, you must get realistic. That means sitting down to talk about the books. It’s not one person’s responsibility in the relationship to know where the money is going. It is a sensitive topic, and one many couples don’t touch until years into a marriage when they have no other choice.
Approach it with an open mind. Many people don’t even know they have serious financial problems until they sit down to sort through it. Follow this advice to avoid any arguments because of monetary problems:
1. Start seeing money as “ours.”
You are now a sum of two parts, and that means your finances, too. There may be a single breadwinner, but regardless, you both share the accounts. One person’s debt belongs to both of you now. These can be challenging and confusing financial situations, but open communication is one thing that will decrease the inevitable arguments.
2. Talk about the big stuff.
There is no need to call your partner every time you want to purchase a stick of gum or a cocktail with friends. But do not forgo the communication when you want to bring home that new car. Part of being together and combining your accounts is communicating with your significant other about major purchases. Follow the golden rule, treat others as you want to be treated. If you would want them to ask you about a purchase, you owe them the same.
3. Budget for activities.
If all you spend your money on is bills and rent, stress is bound to bubble. Avoid taking your tension out on each other by enjoying your time and money together. Incorporate a schedule of fun activities and balance it with larger ventures. If you vacation a couple of times of the year, maybe you don’t get as many date nights, or vice versa. Always make spending time together a priority.
4. What is the worst-case scenario?
It’s not best to dwell on the negative, but being realistically prepared is different. Have a safety net of savings set aside if there is a job loss, illness, or an accident. How would you financially manage if your spouse suddenly passed away? It is good to establish a will and life insurance plan early. That way, you won’t have to worry about the worst-case scenario unless it happens. If it does, you both will already have the pieces in place.
5. Have a “fun money” account.
The only time funds should be separated is for fun, or what we call a “fun fund.” Set a percentage aside each month for the FUNd. This fund is separated into individual and collective fun money. That way each of you can indulge yourself without feeling guilty or unfair to your partner. Also, you will each contribute to the bonding activities you do as a couple. Enjoying yourselves, apart and together, will only positively build your relationship.
6. Understand their priorities, too.
We all have different motivations to our spending. Some are super-savers who wouldn’t dare spend a dime unless it is life or death. On the other hand, your significant other might be someone who frivolously throws money away. The differing dynamics need to be understood and consolidated in a positive fashion for the relationship to stay on the right track. Communication and understanding are key!
7. Find a healthy mindset.
To avoid confrontation, keep the motivations of your loved one in mind when discussing money. Everyone has their reasons behind their spending whether it is conscious or unconscious. If there is a problem, they might not even notice. Be patient and be willing to work it out with them. Get to the bottom of the situation, and it won’t only help you have a positive money relationship, but it will help you develop an open, communicative marriage.
8. Pass it down.
If you have kids or are planning on it one day, you need to figure out how you want to teach your kids about money. Regardless of where you are as a couple financially, you can still teach your children to have a healthy relationship with money and see it as a positive force rather than something negative. Start early, and decide as a couple on the monetary principles you want to pass on to your children. Figuring this out now will help avoid arguments later on.
9. Have a clear vision for the future.
The earlier in life you can start planning for your future the better. Where do you want to be as a couple in five, 10, or 20 years? How are you going to get there, and how are you going to fund it? Having a clear vision as a couple is the most important thing you can do to avoid a financial argument. Having a plan to turn your vision into a reality keeps you both on track.
We have seen couples’ money problems manifest in all ways and at all times. It happens to everyone. Start communicating early in the relationship to set the bedrock of a strong union. Financials can be a touchy subject for anyone. Through honesty and a collaborative spirit, you can avoid the big blowups and build a stronger bond.