Tackling money issues with your significant other might not seem like fun, but a Kansas State University study found that when couples had significant differences about money at the beginning of their relationship, they were more likely to report poor relationship satisfaction and even higher divorce rates. “It’s not children, sex, in-laws or anything else,” says Professor Sonya Britt, “It’s money—for both men and women.”
Money Fix #1: Know your partner’s “money story”
Getting to know each other’s past is important on many levels, but especially when it comes to money—especially if one partner grew up in a different financial situation than the other, as money issues may trigger behavior without either one being aware of why.
Money Fix #2: Reveal your secrets
Money is not the place to keep a bit of mystery in your relationship, and hidden debt will be discovered once you apply for a joint mortgage or other loan. One easy way to avoid this problem is to trade off doing the household finances—not only does this lower the temptation to hide funds or debt, it keeps both partners in the loop if something should happen to the other.
Money Fix #3: Talk more often
Prioritize the financial topics you need to discuss—bills, credit scores, debt, savings, retirement goals—then make time to discuss them. The services of a qualified financial planner may help you clarify goals and understand how things work in the real world. Whatever you do, make sure to discuss these items on a regular, ongoing basis together.
Money Fix #4: Stick to a budget
Help each other stick to a budget by deciding which bills to automate and which to pay by mail. Try giving yourselves an allowance each week, and agree to discuss any expenses over that amount. Make sure to set something aside each month for having fun together before you retire!
Money Fix #5: Discuss the “what ifs”
Nobody lives forever, and unfortunately, accidents can and do happen. Getting your financial and estate planning ducks in a row with life insurance, burial decisions and a living trust can save your partner innumerable headaches during a very traumatic time. Poor financial decisions, even disputes by interfering family members, can all be avoided with a little planning.
As you can see, most money troubles between couples aren’t insurmountable, and good communication can alleviate most, if not all, trouble spots. Seeking a financial planner, reviewing each other’s credit report, and talking through how to handle finances fairly should be considered an important part of building a healthy relationship.
Thanks for reading!