Thursday, 7 May 2015
Arguing about finances remains the leading cause of divorce, according to research by the Certified Divorce Financial Analysts.
Spouses often have differing ideas about money: For instance, one may be a spender and the other a saver. In addition to opposing ideas and habits about money, many couples find that finance is a difficult and potentially explosive topic of discussion—so many avoid communicating about it, leading to more problems, research shows.
Don't let money come between you and your spouse. Here are eight tips for successfully managing money and a marriage.
Most people's ideas and habits regarding money stem from what they were taught or experienced as children. But many people don't realize the beliefs and values that are the basis for their money behaviors. For instance, maybe money signifies security for you. Or perhaps it represents freedom, or success, or a ticket to the life you never had. Try to work through your own ideas about money and why you want to save it, spend it, hide it, build it or whatever you want to do. It's easier to help your spouse understand where you're coming from if you have your own clear ideas.
Take time to talk with your spouse about his or her ideas about money and where those ideas were developed, and what beliefs and values they are based on. In a loving way, ask open-ended questions about how your spouse's parents handled money, how their siblings are dealing with money, how they define "needs" versus "wants," and how they became financially independent. Before you can manage money well together, it's important to understand each other's background and values about money.
Even if you don't agree with your spouse's point of view, be respectful of where he or she is coming from. Once you understand each other's history, you can start creating strategies that work for both of you. Working as a team requires respect and acceptance.
Work with your spouse to develop a joint strategy that incorporates both of your individual ideals. Maybe one partner will be responsible for paying bills or keeping up with the budget, but both partners should be involved in strategizing and setting goals. Consider allowing each spouse a certain budgeted amount to use as he or she pleases, while the majority of the money goes toward household bills and joint financial goals. Everybody needs a little financial freedom.
It's important for each person to have some financial independence, but accountability is crucial for your marriage. Never hide your spending habits from your spouse, and always consult your spouse before purchasing big-ticket items.
Rather than simply living from month to month, making money and paying bills, set financial goals and reach them together. Your goal could be saving up for a family vacation or saving $5,000 in an emergency account, and working together to reach it will help you build stronger financial habits and a stronger marriage.
Try to set aside a regular time, once or twice each month, to discuss your finances as a couple. If these discussions are scheduled regularly, you'll avoid the problem of only talking about money when something bad has happened—such as one partner has overdrawn the bank account. In these discussions, talk about what was spent or charged in the past month and make any necessary corrections to the budget. Also, discuss a vision for the coming month or year.
Remember, nothing is set in stone. You and your spouse made your financial plan together, and you can change it together. When life happens and priorities change, revisit your plan and your goals and negotiate and compromise to develop a new plan.
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