Opposites Detract – Money Tips for Couples
Did you know that money is one of the top reasons for marital splits? You’d think it might be something like infidelity, but when you think about it, not everyone deals with adultery, but everyone has to deal with money. Even if you’ve got a lot of money, it can still lead to strife. As they say, “More money, more problems.” Though everyone would like to be rich, it also offers more complications – more investments, more assets, more ways to spend. If you’re close to broke, there’s no doubt that this can create serious strain on a relationship.
Valentine’s Day is on the way and this seems like a good time to talk about the elephant in the room for many couples. If you’ve got money troubles, a box of chocolates probably isn’t enough to heal that rift. You’ve got to take on these issues head on.
This is especially true of couples who have a different mindset about money. In some couples, one person will be the checkbook-balancing, responsible one. The other could be a impulsive credit-card spender. It’s not surprising if this scenario leads to some friction.
So how can couples best deal with their finances, especially if they’ve got an opposite outlook, or if one person has a large amount of debt and the other person has none? Here are some important financial tips for couples.
1. Communicate. Key to any relationship, you need to talk about the issues at hand. If a person is less concerned with going into debt, for example, this needs to be out in the open. Problems develop when things are left unsaid.
2. Get all your paperwork together. This depends in part on the nature of the relationship. If you’re married, you share debt in a different way than if you’ve been going out for three months. But, generally, for long-term relationships, you’re each culpable for the other person’s debt, and may share a bank account and file taxes jointly. So treat your bills as if they’re both your responsibility.
3. Determine your strengths and weaknesses. Is one person better with long term planning, while one is better at balancing the checkbook month-to-month? Delegate responsibilities based on what you do best. This could mean one person shouldering the load, which isn’t ideal, but at least you’ll have a conversation about the set-up so the person won’t automatically be resentful.
4. Set up a plan. If one person in the couple is not as careful with money as he or she could be, set financial goals for every month–how much he or she can spend. This is not so much an “allowance” as a way to stick to a financial plan. Set your priorities–what do you want to do: get out of credit card debt, save for buying a house in the future, improve a partner’s credit rating, all of the above? Not to be too unromantic, but treat this somewhat like a business plan with both reachable and ideal goals.
5. Communicate. Did we mention this already? Really, it’s the most important step. Problems arise when things are swept under the rug, or someone’s shouldering the burden entirely alone. Once you deal with step #4, keep communicating about how you’re progressing. If you don’t, someone might fall off track.
How about you? Have any experiences in couples where you were financial opposites? How’d you deal with it. Let us know in the comments.