Money is often cited as the number one topic that couples fight about. This can be incredibly trying, especially when you and your significant other have different views about the ways that your money should be saved and spent. Listed below are a few ways that you can talk openly and honestly about money in your relationship, but of course, no two relationships are the same, so you might have to try several of these tactics in order to find the one that works best for you.
Understand Their Background
Instead of fighting about money, first try to understand how your significant other grew up. Were they raised in a home where they were taught to pinch pennies? Or, were they raised in a home where they were able to buy whatever they wanted? Often, people have difficulty leaving their personal upbringing behind when it comes to creating their own way of managing money. We often mimic the money management systems that our parents use, which might not work when we bring another person into our lives. Understanding why they are the way that they are in terms of finances can help open the door for some clear conversations.
Establishing trust is one of the most important things a couple can try to do when they are managing their money. This can be difficult since many people might wish to buy extravagant things without telling their partners, thus breaking their trust. At first, you might have to resort to only using cash and writing down what you spend, but you should be able to rebuild that trust eventually and communicating within the relationship will become easier.
Have a Common Goal
We should all have some idea of the money we want to save and financial goals we want to achieve, be that taking a trip, paying off credit card debt, or something entirely unique . If you and your partner share the same goal (like a romantic vacation), working together to save the money for it can put a positive spin on managing money.
Talk To a Financial Counselor
There are many financial counselors who also specialize in helping relationships: you just need to do an Internet search to find one who can help you plan for your future and understand your partner’s goals and habits as well. Going to talk to a financial counselor can definitely be an intimidating experience, but people often feel so much better after they do, since financial counselors can give you realistic numbers of the amount of money you should be saving and spending. You’ll leave feeling informed, organized, and rejuvenated.
Have “Fun Money” Accounts
Most of the arguments that couples have about finances are in regard to how each person should be spending money—most often, with one partner getting mad or upset that the other has purchased something they shouldn’t have. This can be avoided if each person has a specified amount of money that they can spend on whatever they like. If they want to save for a few months and buy an iPad, they can do that; if they want to spend it all right away on a hundred packs of M&Ms, they can do that too. The important thing is that each person can decide what to do with his or her own “fun money”—this establishes trust and allows each person to get what he or she wants (within reason).
Manage it Together
If you find that you and your partner consistently argue about money, it’s time to get organized. Sit down together once a week for a budget meeting so each person is fully aware of how much each other has, and what needs to be done each week to keep your budget in check. This type of meeting can really keep the lines of communication open and encourage each of you to stay accountable for the amount of money you spend.
Track Your Money
Getting into the habit of writing down everything you buy will help you to be aware of your spending patterns, and so much more. Pretty soon, you will consider each purchase and ask yourself if you want to write it down—this keeps you from spending needlessly. If both you and your partner get into this habit, you can be well on your way to attaining financial freedom and having fewer arguments about money.
The tips and techniques above are not for everyone, and I’m not a relationship expert. I do know from experience, however, that utilizing at least one of them can help your relationship to be more open, honest, and understanding. Every relationship has trying times now and then, and these tips can help you to avoid some of the tensions that can arise when you disagree about money.
Featured photo credit: Young newlywed couple holding suitcases of cash on countryside road via Shutterstock