by Dariusz Godlewski, president of Financial Wealth Alliance
The COVID-19 crisis added financial pressure on many American families. And though a survey showed the pandemic changed how some people in relationships manage money, it didn’t prevent them from keeping money secrets from their partner.
It’s well-documented that money issues have long caused arguments between spouses. One report showed fights about money are a leading cause of divorce. But there are ways couples can stay on the same page financially and avoid friction.
No matter how long you have been together, financial issues can wreak havoc on a committed relationship. When couples don’t agree about spending or savings habits, it can lead to stress, arguments and resentment. And as that pattern continues, couples aren’t helping to secure their financial future.
Here are five ways for couples to address financial issues positively before they cause major problems in the relationship:
1. Understand your money styles.
Financial stability in a relationship is possible when the couple comes up with a mutually agreeable spending plan. It has to work for both people, and each has to be accountable. But to devise a plan, the couple first must have a non-judgmental conversation about each other’s spending habits.
Understanding your partner’s spending habits often involves a deep dive into money fears, scarcity memories and childhood traumas. Empathizing with your partner while freeing each other from negative patterns can be done if you work together. The biggest money-earner shouldn’t think they have the largest say about how the money gets spent. Few things build resentment faster than being made to feel inferior.
2. Decide how to divvy up bills and save for future goals.
Couples can decide either to pay bills from a joint account or divide them based on a percentage of their respective earnings. Once the bill-paying approach is established, the couple then should devise a savings plan for long-term goals.
You need to work closely together as life changes arise. At the same time, putting together a financial plan for your future together is a great first step toward a healthy financial future.
3. Create personal spending allowances… that stay personal.
Having some personal money that’s designated just for you each month can really help how you feel about your relationship. It lessens the chances of one or both keeping money secrets.
4. Face and eliminate undesirable debt.
Debt drags down marriages, especially credit cards. Debt should be paid off following a plan that you both agree on, be it credit card, car loan or student loan. Both partners should have an honest discussion about curtailing bad spending or financial habits that lead to more debt.
5. Set a budget you both can live with.
One of the best ways to keep in sync with your partner when it comes to finances is to have a budget as part of your overall financial plan. The budget includes the household bills, your personal spending allowance, your debt-paying strategy, and your monthly budget for long-term goals like retirement.
The best way to make sure you and your spouse are on the same page with your finances, is to talk about them regularly and honestly without being critical of each other.
Dariusz Godlewski, RFC is the president of Financial Wealth Alliance and a licensed investment adviser representative with Brookstone Capital Management. He holds a life insurance license and has passed the Series 65 securities exam.