For most people, money is an uncomfortable subject. For groups of friends, co-workers, couples – married or not, their finances are something that they very rarely discuss, much less the specifics. This is not necessarily a good thing because money management is a subject that’s not taught in school, either.
If you are a parent who would like to teach your kid how to create a budget, they would not learn it from their teachers so you have to do it yourself. If you fail to do so, your kid might grow into an adult who has no idea about how to handle his or her finances.
Now, if you’re a couple in a long-term relationship or a couple who’s engaged or married, how can you put the subject of money out there? Discussing your finances is already awkward and once you put money problems into the equation, it can easily lead to fights.
As a couple, how can you talk about money or resolve financial problems without starting fights? That’s what we will learn more about here.
Top 10 Tips for Dealing with Financial Problems
Money is indeed a touchy subject for most couples – and there’s really no right way to fight about it. There are, however, plenty of wrong ways to argue over money.
For 90% of divorce cases, financial issues are the primary reason for married couples wanting to part ways. Even newly engaged couples might face problems when planning their wedding, especially when it comes to who pays for which aspect of their big day. Committed couples living together might also have issues with managing their finances one they start cohabitating.
You really should not let money get in the way of your relationship. Here are the top ten tips on how you can deal with financial problems without starting fights:
1. Know why couples fight about money in the first place.
There are many reasons why couples fight about money. It could be a lack of it, mishandling of funds, failure to stick to a budget, too much debt, keeping secrets about money, or one person wanting full control over their finances as a couple.
Another reason is having that difference between how they personally view money. You might be a couple but before you got together, you would already have those established ways by which you handle your own finances.
In an engaged couple, for example – the man could be a spender while the woman could be quite stringent when it comes to spending. A married couple might have big fights over money because of how one spouse spends their joint budget over personal things without informing the other person.
If you’re part of a couple and you already know what problems arise within a relationship when it comes to money, you would know what to expect.
The best thing to do is to have a frank discussion with your partner over how you manage your own money.
If you have different ways of spending and budgeting, make that compromise and set some rules so that you can both have those guidelines on how money should be spent. It’s all a matter of working things out when it comes to money matters, so that fights would not ensue in the first place.
2. Do talk about money as a couple, even if it leads to fights.
One of the biggest misconceptions that people have is that couples should never talk about money because it only leads to fights. The opposite is actually true: you cannot develop a good relationship unless you agree about money. It’s perfectly normal for married couples to have arguments about handling their finances.
If you do stumble upon such issues, use it as an opportunity to improve and strengthen your relationship. If the argument does lead to fights, that is fine. Just make sure that when you make up, there is a solution that is satisfactory for the both of you.
Again, you’re individuals with different ways of handling money even if you are in a relationship. Compromise is the key if you want to resolve arguments or fights which are related to handling your finances as a couple.
3. Nothing is off-limits when talking about your finances.
When you’re an engaged couple, you might be surprised at the debt that your fiancé would bring into the marriage. It could be student loans or credit card loans.
Once you say your “I dos”, what would you also be taking on your new spouse’s debts?
There is no one right way to answer this – it all depends on the solution that you’d come up with as a couple. As long as you leave things out in the open, you can have a dynamic discussion about how to handle your finances as a couple. When discussing such issues, don’t consider anything to be off-limits.
The more open you are to your partner about the status of your finances before entering a permanent relationship, the better you can handle the discussion without it turning into an argument.
4. Do talk about major purchases before making them.
You are bound to get into a huge fight about money when there’s a huge debt that you cannot afford to pay. To avoid this in the first place, make it a rule to talk about major purchases before making them.
For example, if your husband is the one who usually goes grocery shopping with the kids and he sees a new set of speakers that catches his eye, he needs to talk it over with you first if it’s anything over $500.
The same thing should apply to you, even when you’re buying personal effects. Having rules like these and informing your partner about any major financial moves that you will make would prevent you from arguing about big purchase in the first place.
5. Don’t lie to your partner about your debts.
Some married couples join all their finances, while others try to maintain separate accounts. Conflicts arise when one partner lies to the other about his or her debts.
If you are keeping your credit card debts from your husband, for example, and he happens to get a hold of your credit card bill, this could lead to a huge fight later on. Again, the key is to be transparent about how you are spending your money.
You might have entirely different ways of managing your finances but when you know that your spending habits could cause conflicts within the relationship, try and set your partner’s expectations about it by being open.
6. Don’t be too controlling.
Another major cause of financial problems within a relationship is when one person tries to take full control of the money. Remember that marriage or even living together is a partnership.
Learn how to compromise and always take your partner’s needs into account. This becomes even more crucial if you’re a married couple with kids.
Make sure that you both have a say when it comes to handling your finances, even if one person out earns the other.
7. Focus on the problem instead of attacking each other.
If you’re already at that point when you are fighting about money, the worst mistake that you can make is to attack each other instead of dealing with the problem head-on.
Never leave an argument unresolved, but you should never resort to attacking each other.
If you are arguing over a big credit card bill which you cannot afford to pay, for example, how did the purchases get made in the first place? How about setting up rules that when your purchases reach a certain limit, you should both agree on it before charging it on your joint credit card?
Don’t immediately put the blame on your partner and say that it’s his or her fault. Talk about the problem, admit if you have made a mistake, and come up with a suitable solution together.
8. Use age-appropriate language if kids are around.
Money management skills are not taught in school. If you’re not teaching your kids how to budget, don’t expect them to understand when the family is going through a financial crisis, either.
If you do have to tighten the budget, talk to your kids about it using a language that they can easily understand. Explain to them that you cannot yet afford to buy that fancy toy that they like.
Don’t put the blame on them if all your funds are going towards their school expenses. Make them aware of the problem so that they can do their share in sticking to a budget, then work out the details between you and your spouse.
9. Work on your family budget together.
Perhaps the best exercise that you can do to efficiently deal with financial problems as a couple is to work on the budget together. There are household maintenance expenses, utilities, the kids’ school, insurance policies, and everything else that you need to pay for. By working on a budget together, you can have this open discussion about how to handle your money – even when it comes to the little things needed for your home.
10. Build future financial goals together.
Finally, it is important to learn how to build future financial goals together. If you’re raising kids, do set aside funds for their college education – but don’t forget to save up for your retirement. If you want to buy a new house, turn that into your inspiration to work harder.
By openly discussing your finances as a couple, you can avoid big fights altogether. Through compromise, budgeting and setting future goals together, you can successfully manage your finances and improve your relationship at the same time.