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How to Discuss Finances with Your Partner Without Killing Each Other

How to Discuss Finances with Your Partner Without Killing Each Other

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.

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    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.

    Establish Trust

    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

     

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    Catherine Alford

    Catherine is the go to personal finance expert for educated, aspirational moms who want to recapture their life passions.

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    Last Updated on March 4, 2019

    How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

    How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

    Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

    I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

    Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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    Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

    Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

    Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

    I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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    I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

    If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

    Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

    The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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    Using Credit Cards with Rewards

    Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

    You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

    I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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    So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

    What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

    Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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