Money affects many aspects of your life, especially your relationships. That’s why it’s so important to talk with your partner about your household finances and come to an agreement for how you will manage money together. Failing to address financial issues early and often could spell trouble down the road, such as financial infidelity and even divorce.
A study by Utah State University Associate Professor Jeffrey Dew found that couples who disagree about finances once a week were over 30% more likely to divorce than couples who said they only disagreed a few times a month.
Here are tips for how you and your partner can get on the same page.
1. Meet regularly
Do your best to meet on a regular basis. Some financial planners recommend meeting monthly. If that doesn’t work for you, try reviewing your finances together at least quarterly. The important thing is that you work together to sort through household finances, address concerns, and manage your money as a team.
“When you feel with one part of your brain and plan with another, you need a map. When two people come together, each has a unique relationship with money, and they need a system to bridge to a common ground. Co-creating a mutually satisfying and fulfilling money relationship challenges every couple. The new co-authored story will devise its own communication, behaviors, metaphors, patterns, goals, and visions,” said Dr. David Krueger in Couples and Money: Cracking the Code to Ending the #1 Conflict in Marriage.
2. Set an agenda
Although this isn’t a business meeting, you should still run your household like a corporation. Write down the concerns both you and your partner want to discuss so that you don’t veer off into irrelevant topics. Creating an agenda will also help you remember what you want to say.
3. Be honest
If you’ve been hiding a big purchase or if you feel like you’re having difficulty managing your money, let your love know. Don’t harbor secrets. Eventually it will come to light, and the fallout will be much worse once your partner discovers you’ve been telling a lie by omission. When it comes to money matters, honesty is the best policy.
4. Don’t let tempers flare
It’s easy to get defensive when the topic turns to money. Resist the urge to blame each other for financial problems or make excuses for your own bad habits. Approach each other with care and understanding. However, if the conversation turns into an argument, it’s time to stop the discussion and reconvene when you are both in a calmer state of mind.
5. Make it a family affair
If you have children, make a point to occasionally invite them to the meetings. They will learn more about managing money and see a good example of how adults work together to accomplish a goal. This will help set a positive model for good financial behaviors.
6. Seek outside help
Hire a certified financial planner to assist you with managing your finances. You can find one through the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards’ online directory. In addition, if it becomes evident that you or your partner has a bigger problem when it comes to managing money, it would serve you well to seek assistance from a professional who specializes in financial disorders such as compulsive shopping or gambling.