It’s common for couples to argue about money. Disagreements on just about anything are bound to happen when two people with different perspectives, tastes, interests and experiences come together in marriage.
However, money is sadly the third most common cause of divorce, according to the Certified Divorce Financial Analysts. Differences also escalate as we get older — mainly due to the fact that the financial pressures of sending kids to college, caring for aging parents and making sure we have enough for retirement collide all at once.
But, even in spite of all that, isn’t there a way to make it work? With disagreements about money being so prevalent, how do you make sure they don’t turn ugly?
Check out these tips to help you get on the same page with your spouse and avoid money fights!
1. Be honest
Like so many things, with money, honesty is the best policy. ‘If both parties aren’t on the same page, it leads to secrets, which can undermine a marriage,’ says Matt Bell, author of Money & Marriage: A Complete Guide for Engaged and Newly Married Couples. If you make a money mistake, be willing to admit it! Then agree together to move forward.
2. Decide on a budget – together
‘A lot of arguments around money have to do with assumptions and emotions. But if you have a budget, you can take a look strictly at the numbers, which will enable you to have a fact-based discussion about any disagreements,’ says Bell. Set some time aside and create a budget together, based on your values and goals.
3. Be willing to compromise
It’s very common for opposites to attract in marriage: One person is likely going to be a spender, and the other a saver. But it’s difficult to keep any relationship intact if either party adopts a ‘my way or the highway’ approach. Try to find common ground by being flexible — and understanding what is important to your spouse and why.
4. Agree to disagree
CNBC interviewed T. Rowe Price financial planner Stuart Ritter, who said, ‘Money disagreements are often more about priorities and trade-offs than they are about the actual money. Understand why something is important to your partner, and understand why it’s important to you,’ he added. ‘From that understanding, make the decisions and trade-offs that let you both feel comfortable.’
5. Create a ‘spending limit’ rule
Have you ever looked at a credit card or bank statement, only to be horrified at a charge? As part of the budget discussion, decide for yourselves how much each person is allowed to spend without contacting the other. The amount will likely depend on your income, and may vary from $25 to $500.
Read more: Money management for couples
6. Discuss your money background
So many money disagreements come from our own family backgrounds. Although it might have been normal to spend a certain amount on something or do something a certain way, this will likely be completely foreign to your spouse. Be sure to talk about your background with money and how it impacts your decisions today.
7. Look toward the future
Fidelity Investments asked over 1,000 couples ages 25 to over 60 years old about their retirement earlier this year, and found that planning for the future leads to more peace of mind when it comes to retirement. If you or your spouse have made any mistakes regarding money, learn to forgive yourself and the other, and decide to move forward.
Success in money and in marriage takes work. But it’s worth it in the end!