Eight Money Tips for Couples
From squabbles over spending to disagreements over budgeting, financial woes can be a source of serious strife for couples. In fact, in one recent study, 35 percent of couples reported that they argue about money more than anything else.
Want to cut down on money-related arguments with your spouse or significant other? It’s time to take control of how you and your partner deal with your money, get on the same page about your goals, and savor the satisfaction of successful financial management.
Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Establish trust and talk it out. Now’s the time to be honest, hash out any spending or saving issues, and/or come clean about any unknown or out-of-control debt. Lay all of your money issues and obligations out on the table; set clear goals; discuss how you’ll manage bills and savings; decide how large purchases will be made; and talk about your expectations.
2. Decide on joint or separate accounts (or both). There are reasons for both, such as how much independence you want in managing your money, whether or not you’re a two-income family, and if you share expenses or not. Be sure to respect and consider the other person’s opinion, and clearly express your preferences, as well.
3. Build a budget. A budget is a must for every household. Whether you use a high-tech option like a smartphone app or old-fashioned pencil and paper, you need to sit down with you partner and create a realistic budget that you can both agree on. Make sure that you review and update it regularly as needs, lifestyle, income, and expenses change.
4. Set aside emergency savings. Typically, financial experts recommend having six months’ worth of household expenses set aside to cover emergencies. If you’re not there yet, make a plan to work your way there. If you already have this covered, you could set up a second or even third savings account for travel, a house, or other big-budget purchases you hope to make in the future.
5. Secure your retirement. There are many ways to make this happen, including employer-offered 401k plans, a Roth IRA, or your own interest-bearing savings account. Discuss all your options, and enlist a financial planner if you feel overwhelmed.
6. Establish regular check-ins. This is a good way to keep yourselves accountable and stay on top of your shared goals. Make a plan to set aside 15 or 20 minutes once a month. Check-ins also provide time to evaluate what’s working, discuss what’s not working, and consider any changes that need to be made.
7. Kick debt to the curb. Sit down and assess all of your debt, and make a plan to get out from under it. After all, you’re now both responsible for paying it off. You can research several strategies for debt repayment, including the snowball or avalanche methods.
8. Work together. This might sound obvious, but one partner shouldn’t be left with all the financial responsibility. Over time, shouldering all the money-management burden, including bill-paying and decision-making, can breed resentment. Remember, you’re both in this relationship, so you should work together and take your fair share of responsibility for ensuring your money situation is healthy and stable.
Keeping a relationship strong means focusing on several elements to measure success. Working with your partner to ensure your family’s financial health can present challenges, but there are ways to work through them and come out on top. If you need advice about finances or debt repayment, you can always reach out to the helpful team at American Credit Foundation.