Communication is Key
Michael Sullivan, a personal financial consultant with Take Charge America, a nonprofit credit-counseling agency, says people learn their first lessons about money from their families. “Whether they emulate their parents or do the opposite of, successful couples make communication a priority, work to understand one another’s habits, and get on the same page about spending and saving.”
Differences in spending habits and conflicting values often play into fights about money, but even these are solvable, says Sullivan. He says couples that are able to work through their money issues have certain things in common, and shared these tips so you can emulate them:
Talk about money. Sit down regularly to look at your finances, create a budget, review income and expenses, and talk through any disagreements or problems.
Be honest. Even when it’s difficult or embarrassing, it’s important to fully disclose your financial situation to your partner. Come clean about spending, income, investments, alimony and child support, and credit card debt. Don’t keep secret accounts or spend on the sly.
Have common goals. Decide what you want to be able to do, and set financial goals to make it possible. Work together toward your goals, whether it’s a vacation, an early retirement, paying off debt, or buying a home.
Share expenses. Decide who will be responsible for what: rent or mortgage, groceries, utilities, phone bill, and debt payments. Divide the responsibility for these things in a way that feels fair to you both, whether you have shared or individual accounts.
Pay off debt. Credit card debt, student loans, and other debt can cause a lot of conflict and stress for couples. Make a plan to pay it down together so you can be debt-free.
Remember to have fun. Put aside some money that each of you can spend however you want. Make sure there’s always space in your budget for discretionary spending. And if retail therapy is your thing, don’t forget to have a great cash back credit card that rewards you for shopping.
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