According To Data, Couples Who Save Together Stay Together
In all marriages, the honeymoon phase will eventually end, but that doesn’t mean the couple can’t maintain a healthy and happy relationship for the rest of their lives. While teamwork and compromise can strengthen the couple emotionally, these virtues can also strengthen them financially.
It’s no secret that spouses will need to have “the money talk” early in their marriage, and preferably before they walk down the aisle. Shared finances are a big deal, and oftentimes a stressful or touchy subject. According to a recent study conducted by Sonya Britt, a Kansas State University researcher, arguing about money is the top predictor of divorce. The study, titled “Examining the Relationship Between Financial Issues and Divorce,”looked at longitudinal data from more than 4,500 couples as part of the National Survey of Families and Households. That data concluded that arguments about money were longer and usually more intense than other types of marital disagreements.
The research also uncovered reasons why this type of argument in particular causes a rift between couples, including:
- Deeper issues like power and trust.
- The couple experiencing a negative financial event, like job loss.
- Financial stress overwhelming the couple.
- Differing beliefs about money, like status vs. security.
In an effort to help prevent your marriage from crumbling, it’s crucial that you and your partner proactively establish effective planning and communication surrounding your finances. As a result, achieving goals like decreasing debt and saving for your future will be much more viable (and enjoyable).
Build On a Solid Foundation
When planning to get married or when just starting your new life together as a married couple, work to get yourself in as good a financial situation as possible so that you’re in good shape when the time comes to merge finances. You can lay a solid financial foundation with your spouse by:
- Paying off as much debt as possible
- Cancelling extra accounts that are costing you money
- Dropping bad money habits
- Educating yourself on how to spend wisely
- Writing your spouse into your will
- Adding them to your life insurance policy and 401K
Money issues in marriages almost always stem back to communication. You need to talk about your finances together frequently, forever (in good times and in bad), to uphold accountability and work through roadblocks. You can ensure communication about money is a constant in your relationship by setting weekly “money dates” with your partner where you discuss matters big and small. The goal is to uncover anything and everything in order to deepen your understanding of each others’ money habits and get on the same page. Ask open-ended questions like:
- How did your parents handle money?
- Do friends and family ask you for loans? Do you ask family and friends for money?
- How did you begin your independent financial life? When did you start paying your own bills? Did you ever run into trouble with debt?
- How do you define “needs” versus “wants”?
- Do you use cash, credit cards, or checks? How often do you sit down and review your circumstances against your financial goals?
- How does spending and saving define you as a person…how do you want to be seen by your friends and family?
Keep your conversations frank and honest – know what their spending power is, what debt they might be in, their credit score, how to access their accounts, what their goals are, and where their money is. But, remember to choose your words wisely. Speaking intentionally, and with respect and kindness, allows everyone to have a more productive conversation.
Succeed As a Team
When married, every financial decision should be made as a team. This includes splitting your funds. Remain fair and reasonable by determining your percentage of the contribution by yoursalary. You are working to improve your finances together, but that doesn’t mean you need to split things right down the middle. Contributing to your expenses should make sense for the couple as a unit.
Both of you should sit down and do the math on all of your monthly expenses, including mortgage, groceries, and bills. Then, set a fixed amount to ensure both partners are happy. For instance, maybe you and your spouse agree that you can each spend $75 a week — without judgment.
Once you are both on the same page with financial goals, you can work together to develop a money strategy that incorporates both of your individual ideas. Just as a successful marriage requires consideration, balance, and persistence, so does a financially sound couple with a bright future.
The article is reprinted by permission from LevantoFiinancial