In a committed relationship, arguing about money is simply dreadful. Yet it is one of the most common reasons for couples to fight. We think couples argue only about money struggles, but that is untrue. Money arguments extends from financial struggles, spending habits, saving, investments to financial goals. Couples from all income levels and financial security aren’t on the same page regarding financial concerns, which more often than not, these differences in opinion leads to arguments.
If remain unsolved, it could drive a wedge in your relationship- which is unfortunate. But this doesn’t have to be all grim. With persistence and practice, solutions to your money woes could be as easy as taking the steps below to avoid money matters get the best of your relationships.
Understand the Importance of Managing Money
Some of my co-worker whom are in a relationship, doesn’t understand why they need to manage their finances. They happily living in a world where everything they earn goes into ‘fun, expensive’ things. They would live pay check to pay check even when their household income is twice the amount of the average household income. The thing is, if the both of you are happy doing that and happy staying that way for the time being, good for you! Why bother fixing something you are completely happy with ?
But,… if you constantly would like to move forward in your life and relationship and are future oriented, then understanding why you need to manage your finances is a must. Both you and your partner need to identify common monetary and non-monetary goals and work on how to achieve these goals. Once you know WHY you must start managing your money, expect to see the ‘I dont understand why I cannot spent $2000 on a handbag’ arguments to significantly reduce.
Set Financial Goals
Different couples have different financial goals they are preparing themselves for. Some would like to save for a house, or for a wedding. The moment I knew Sam was the one I wanted to be with, I only had one financial goal; I must make sure that we have some sense of financial freedom by the time he retires. While Sam had a different plan all together. His goals was to travel! After we went for our first couple’s trip, he was hooked on luxury travelling and his financial goal was to save enough money for our next luxury trip!
So, we spent a lot of time communicating with each other on our own ideas of spending and saving. It was surprising at first, knowing how can someone I love so much and wanted to spend my life with, doesn’t see the future the way I see it? And he felt the same way about me. But once we get our head out of our arses, communicate and listening more, we realise that there is no right or wrong to both our ideas.So we started to solve this the way we solve our other arguments. We worked as a team! So, We sat through our finances, separately and together and finally came across the ultimate goal we have in common. We want to save as much money as possible, without sacrificing our current lifestyle.
From there we drew up a plan. The plan must take into account ; His spending needs, My spending needs and Our spending needs.
The plan must allow his and my weekly spending requirements, us to live a comfortable lifestyle, go travelling several times a year (3 to 5 stars) and still save enough money annually to achieve the goal of financial freedom. At first we thought… No way this can happen.., but we found out that after a while that, we are actually doing it and it is not as hard as we initially thought. Just stick to the plan!
Just bear in mind, the conversation on financial goals is one that must be had regularly. Since we drew our first plan and as time goes by, we grew, evolved and shifted our priorities. Our financial goals last year may not be relevant this year or we have outgrown it.
Listen to Your Other Half
Whenever I hear from my friends and siblings about another money related arguments they have, often they don’t understand where their other half is coming from. It is so much easier to see the negative side of their partners money habit. Instead of aggravating the situation during your heated argument. Have an equal discussion when you are both in a good frame of mind.
Listen to what your partner has to say and get your partner to do the same. Sort the ‘ I ‘ first before sorting the ‘ US ‘ . Write it down and analyse your notes. Recognise the good points and discuss on how this can further benefit you. Work on areas that need improvements. Sometimes money habits, both spending and saving are psychological. If it is so, find a way to deviate from it and replace it with another alternative. Speak to a professional about the issue and work with them to find a solution.
Learn to Trust
Someone I know controls the reign so tightly over her family’s finances. The thing is, she is very proud of it. Frequently dishing out advice to others on how to manage their family money using the same method.
What is her method ? take 110% control of the household finances. Allow the spouse a bank card with how ever much she sees fit. The condition is that all spending must via the card and no money is allowed to be withdrawn, so she can track all purchases. This also applies to her kids.
If rules doesn’t get followed, all hell will break loose, you can hear her on the phone berating her husband about ‘spending $50 at Bunnings’ … nothing lets out of her sight. She would also give him a hard time when he spends all the allocated money for the month. She would get upset , when he gets upset upon being questioned.
Look, this method probably works for her and he is still hanging around , bless his cotton socks, but what kind of life is that ? where is the trust ? you can’t buy anything without her knowing what you are up to! Not even her birthday present! This shows a serious trust issues and the obsessive need to control everything. It is important to put some amount of trust in your partner when it comes to money, even if they are bad with it . Give them some sense of accountability.
When you don’t learn to trust them, the baggage is on your shoulder. It becomes your problem, your worries. Monitoring where the money comes and goes all the times is no way to live (unless being that obsessive makes you feel alive…). A healthier way would be to trust and verify. Trust your spouse with an amount they can handle over a specific amount of time. From time to time, pay attention to their spending and purchases. If it seems like its getting out of hand, its time to talk about it, if not, that s good! the arrangement is currently working.
Create Money Rules to Live By
Do your research on spending habits, debts, investments and saving. Work with your partner on what constitute as reasonable money do’s and the don’ts. Some spending habits are just plain a waste of money and provide you with short term satisfaction. This may need a little adjustment. While other rules may sound like a silly idea at first but may actually do you good. Here are some of the Money Rules we have come across before :
- Once his & her personal money for that month has been spent, it is spent. No cash advances, no dipping into emergency funds, no arguments.
- Transparency across the border, no secret bank accounts, no hidden bad credits, no hidden loans.
- If you are not happy about something, communicate and resolve. Don’t sweep all the small things under the rug until it escalate into something bigger than Ben Hur!
- Consider yourselves equal, respect each other’s opinion despite the size of your paychecks.
Discuss and Agree on Large Purchases
Large purchases in some way will affect your loved ones if not now perhaps somewhere down the line. It is important for you to mention this with your partner prior to making these purchases. One may think, why should I? I work hard for this. The key is respecting the situation, that there are the two of you in it. Your other half need to also remember that, discussing about it is not about asking permission it is about respecting your right as an equal partner.
Research and Learn
Make learning and researching about money a fun couple’s activity. Speak to a financial adviser, read and watch your information. You both will get something different out of accessing the same information. From there you will find that one may have the knack for saving while the other have talent for investing. Here on, you can decide on the next step towards achieving your financial goals. This way, you will regularly communicate and are actively keeping each other in the loop. Accountability for your hard earned money becomes a team effort, even if one person will be more involved than other.