It has become general knowledge that half the marriages in North American end in divorce. It makes us all wonder what it takes to have a happy long-term relationship.
There is good news. According to Kansas State University researcher, Sonya Britt, arguing about money is the top predictor of divorce. How is that good news? Well, if you master your personal finances and get on the same page with your partner about your shared finances, then you’ll have overcome the number one obstacle in relationships.
What do happy couples do differently? Here are the nine smart money habits they share:
1. They talk about money
For many couples, it’s easier to talk about sex than to talk about money. Based on their upbringing, money can be a sensitive topic because it can trigger feelings of inadequacy or shame centered around not having a financial plan, around spending too much or around not earning or saving enough. Happy couples set aside time to talk about money and set goals around each partner’s and the shared money.
2. They understand each other’s money type
Are they hoarders when it comes to money? Are they big spenders? Are they come-what-may hippies? Or are they avid spreadsheet crunchers? According to author Jordan Goodman, in the book Master Your Money Type, there are six psychological money types. Happy couples understand their own money type and their partner’s. They don’t try to change the other person. They only strive to find a middle ground.
3. They have a joint bank account
Happy couples share a joint bank account that covers common basic necessities, such as rent or mortgage payments, utilities, groceries, toiletries, etc. They both automate their monthly contributions to this join bank account, in proportion to their income. They even align what to do if or when one of them isn’t earning an income.
4. They have separate bank accounts
In addition to a joint bank account, they each have their own separate bank accounts and credit cards. Happy couples know the value of independence, freedom of choice, mutual trust and personal respect. They don’t stalk each other’s every move and purchase. Separate bank accounts also leaves room for personal growth, personal responsibility and surprise birthday gifts!
5. They understand each other’s love languages
What does love have to do with money? According to Dr Gary Chapman, in his New York Times bestselling The Five Languages of Love, people express love through quality time, physical touch, acts of service, words of affirmation, or gifts. For example, if one partner spends a lot of money buying gifts to show affection while another just wants to talk long walks together, then the first can be perceived as a frivolous spender and the second as a cheap-ass. Understanding each other’s love language helps happy couples understand their partner’s internal motivator for spending, saving, and investing money.
6. They have a security blanket
Nothing stresses a relationship more than financial insecurity. On Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, security – including financial security – is more important than love and belonging. Happy couples budget, follow their budget and create a financial security blanket that keeps them feeling secure, optimistic, and carefree. It doesn’t mean they deprive themselves of fun or material goods, it simply means they don’t spend money that they don’t have.
7. They know that money is a means, not an end
Happy couples understand that money is a means, a way to exchange goods and services. They know that ultimately, money won’t give them fulfillment and purpose. They use money to acquire assets, to travel and experience the world, and to support continued learning and healthy lifestyle. Happy couples aren’t materialistic. They don’t feel the need to keep up with the Jones.
8. They set aside fun money
All wealth mastery gurus point to delayed gratification as a key to long-term wealth. Yet, happy couples set aside fun money, an amount of disposable income that requires no thought or consideration before spending. Tapping into the fun money barrel prevents needless arguments and stress on the relationship.
9. They have balance
They are frugal, but don’t hoard money. They are generous, but not reckless with money. They appreciate spreadsheets, but don’t let numbers rule their lives. They gracefully walk the fine line between work and play and the fine line between saving, spending, and investing.
So, what will it be? Open and curious conversations around money or avoid money issues until they implode? Happy couples treat money as a means to an end, not a character flaw or personality trait. They approach it with a smile and look for alignment of their common goals, rather than agreement of their personal preferences.
What habits will you implement to keep your relationship happy and prosperous?
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