By Ash Toumayants
When you are doing life with someone else, there are a number of topics that can be hard to tackle, and money can definitely be one of them. Maybe you find it easy, even enjoyable, to discuss your finances with your special someone. Or maybe your budget, financial goals, and plans are topics you two tend to avoid at all costs. We’d all love to say we fall into that first group, but the truth is, if you’d rather not have “the money talks,” you’re in good company. A couples and money survey reveals that 26% of Americans turn a blind eye to the issue of finances in their relationship even though they understand the importance of discussing it.
As tough as going over finances can be, we all typically understand the importance of regular communication in this area, especially when your bank accounts are shared. Simply ignoring the subject only creates space for confusion, overspending, and increased tension. And there are few things more stressful than your finances going awry. And the unfortunate truth is that money is the primary reason for arguments between couples. In fact, disagreements about finances are the most common predictors of a future divorce. This is a topic that is not only vital to the health of your bank account but to the health of your relationship as well.
So, why is it so difficult for money and love to peacefully coexist? For one, finances tend to stir up plenty of emotions on their own, and relationships can often tend to do the same. Therefore, the thought of adding financial stress to relational stress causes some couples to try to keep the peace by ignoring the easier-to-dodge topic of money. In addition, even when we are open to discussing our finances, we have our own unique financial personality and correlating opinion on how to manage money that may not align with our partner’s. Some of us are savers, some are spenders. Some of us may be conservative, while others are free spirits. These differences can sometimes lead to disagreements that put stress on other areas of our relationship as well.
But no matter what the statistics tell us, money doesn’t have to be a stress point in a relationship! Here are a few simple strategies that may help couples avoid financial friction.
As we begin to mingle our lives with that special someone, chances are that the thought that our sweetheart may not be forthright with their spending habits isn’t one we are paying much attention to. Unfortunately, honesty regarding money isn’t a guarantee in a relationship. It’s important for both partners to offer full disclosure of their finances and be open about expenses, regardless of whether you’re married, live together, or have joint or separate bank accounts. You and your significant other should be aware of how you spend your money, especially when it comes to larger expenses, loans, or ongoing fees. By maintaining an open line of communication regarding spending habits and upcoming bills, you may be able to avoid such confrontations.
Set Healthy Boundaries
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but the truth is that it is often avoided or given very little attention. Healthy boundaries set the framework and help you to avoid having to rehash the same danger zones every paycheck. Sit down together and discuss how much can be spent per month on non-essentials. Establish and agree upon a few basic guidelines, and create a structure for how you will spend and save money. It’s important for couples to be on the same page regarding their finances. Establishing a monthly budget that allows for a set amount of “fun money” can not only avoid overspending but allow each of you to plan for what you want. If one of you is more disciplined than the other, you might consider having the more disciplined of the two manage the monthly budget and spending.
Often one spouse acts as the Chief Financial Officer of the household, managing all bills, budgets, savings, investments, and insurance policies. However, just as it is important for both to understand how much there is to spend, it is also important for both to know what it all is being spent on. Be intentional and plan time to sit down together once a month and review credit card statements, account transactions, and other bills. This not only gives you two sets of eyes to check for possible errors, but it also allows you each to have a full understanding of where your money is going and eliminates assumptions or accusations. Ongoing transparency and input from both partners will strengthen your relationship and create a true partnership.
Each month, set aside a portion of pocket money that you and your partner can spend on something you love. This may be something you do together or individually, such as a spa day, a round of golf, or a luxurious date night. Along with saving for long-term goals, set small objectives you can reasonably accomplish each month and include the ability to celebrate your success in your budget.
Find An Objective Financial Partner
Sometimes the best way to ease money tensions is to work with an objective third party, whether that’s a financial professional, a marriage counselor, or both. A financial professional can work with you and your significant other to review your financial landscape, identify any gaps in your insurance coverage, assist you in establishing short-term and long-term goals, help you stay on track, and provide professional and knowledgeable advice.
The topic of finance can cause tension from time to time—that’s normal. However, money should not become a constant source of concern in a relationship. Do yourself and your special someone a favor and push past the awkwardness, invest the time to address spending habits and savings goals, uphold transparency regarding purchases, and communicate effectively.
At Strong Tower Associates, we provide honest, informative, and helpful advice to give our clients workable financial plans they can execute with confidence. We know that just as each relationship is unique, each couple’s financial goals and needs are unique as well. Our financial planners take the time to create a tailored strategy based on your specific needs, goals, and circumstances. If you have questions about your finances, desire advice or education on investing, or have yet to get started strategically planning for your retirement, we are here and ready to help. Get in touch by calling 814-325-9806 or emailing [email protected]. Or, if you prefer, you can now quickly and easily click here to request a meeting using our online system!
Ash Toumayants is a financial advisor and the founder of Strong Tower Associates. For over a decade, he has helped hardworking people across Central Pennsylvania prepare for retirement. Fueled by a passion for helping people see through the veil of confusion that shrouds the financial world, his goal is to educate his clients so they can make more sound choices regarding their financial future. A Penn State graduate, he currently lives in State College with his lovely wife, Noelle, and their four adorable children. Learn more by connecting with Ash on LinkedIn or emailing [email protected].
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