Money fights with your significant other are no fun, and sometimes words that are exchanged can be damaging to a relationship. When we commit ourselves to our partner for life sometimes we don’t think about the impact money will have on our relationship. We may have never thought about difficulties that may arise when we handle finances differently. We must accept that as individuals we may see and feel differently about money, but as a couple, we should commit to having money goals together.
DISCUSS THE PAST AND COMMIT TO A BUDGET
Whether one of you is a stay at home parent or you both make money of your own, it is essential to bring your spending and income together in one place. That place is your personal income statement. It can be beneficial to have one joint account to pay for essentials or “must have expenses,” and then separate accounts for spending, or even better is to use cash for spending. Avoid using credit cards because that is usually where hidden surprises lurk and can cause a monster of an argument. Here is a spreadsheet you can use for your income statement and budget: personal finance spreadsheet. Update it each month or at least quarterly so you know if you are spending what you expected and if you need to adjust for something coming up.
It is essential you both discuss your past money experiences and even your parent’s experiences. Keep no secrets and talk about what you learned growing up and any mistakes you’ve made in the past. Owning your mistakes can be cleansing, but also your partner can have more compassion for your choices going forward. Use the personal income statement, so you BOTH commit to a budget. Make a fun penalty for when someone strays from the promised spending amounts; like a back rub or something 😉.
What if you just can’t agree on a budget? Maybe it is time to see a financial coach or professional therapist. There may be some other reason why one of you can’t compromise on an item. Maybe one of you has pent up feelings or trust issues that need to be uncovered and released to move forward.
CREATE A BALANCE SHEET (IT’S GETTING HOT IN HERE!!!)
Creating a combined balance sheet is also essential so you can have goals that will increase your assets and any goals for paying off debt. This sheet is included in the same spreadsheet as the income statement, and you will have the opportunity to celebrate together when your financial goals are accomplished.
It is really important that one person avoids taking all the responsibility for the finances. One of you may be more organized than the other, one of you may love spreadsheets while the other hates them, but you have to talk and know what is happening with your money. Both of you do! It is BOTH of your responsibility. Keeping up with a budget and staying organized makes money far less overwhelming, and no one feels kept in the dark.
HAVE AN EMERGENCY PLAN
An emergency savings account is also going to save you lots of stress and arguing. When the money is available to pay for that car accident or an emergency visit to the hospital it is far easier to forgive mistakes each other may make. Compassion is more easily given when you can remain calm, and there is no need to problem solve a lack of available money.
MAKE IT A DATE!
Dedicate at least one night per month reviewing your money situation and talk about the upcoming month or any big purchases that will be expected in the future. Make it a date, make sure the kids are in bed or out of the house, and focus on each other. Looking at spreadsheets isn’t romantic but talking to each other is and concentrating on each other’s ideas can be! If you have a family, making a dedicated time to talk about money helps each parent be informed of family activities. No one feels alone in the struggle to keep up. That is so very important when you are a couple. You will also be teaching your children how to work together to manage the family money supply. They will follow your lead in their own relationships.
To keep your relationship healthy and avoid senseless money arguments you must talk and have a plan. You can’t prevent all arguments but committing to a night per month and going over your written budget will keep you working together as a team. Isn’t that what you promised each other to be?
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