Money is one of the most sensitive topics couples face. Disagreement over spending and saving habits is one of the most frequent causes of friction in a relationship. Truthful, frank discussion and mutual financial planning can go a long way to resolve the tension.
BUDGET: A DIRTY WORD?
Does the mere mention of a budget start your teeth grinding? For many, it evokes the same enthusiasm as going on a diet – in this case, a money diet. Begin by changing your focus. Agree with your partner to create a spending plan. Agree to review it and adjust it periodically. A plan is adjustable and should suit your lifestyle, not imprison you.
The first step is to carefully track expenses. Save every receipt for a month so you have a clear picture of your spending. Be open about your spending. In a relationship, silence is not golden.
SET SAVINGS GOALS
“Pay yourself first” is the first rule of financial success. Agree to commit a percentage of your take-home pay to savings. Ten percent is a good place to start. Increase the amount as you can. Maximize contributions to retirement or 401(k) plans where an employer provides matching funds.
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DISCUSS BIG EXPENDITURES
Agree to consult with each other about purchases that are more than a specific amount (such as $200). Keep an agreed-upon amount of cash of your own in an individual account. Each of you should have money to spend on small indulgences with no questions asked. Agree in advance on what types of expenses are personal. For example, is a magazine subscription personal or part of your overall spending plan? Deciding in advance will leave little room for argument later.
Thinking about making a large purchase? Ask yourself these questions first.
Additionally, don’t criticize each other in public about money. Keep financial discussions private. Review your plan periodically. Every year or so, sit down to determine if your goals have changed or if your plan needs adjusting. You’ll avoid the type of arguments most couples find themselves in by keeping these simple guidelines in mind.
Feeling overwhelmed? Consider sitting down with one of our free, on-staff financial counselors for a fresh perspective.