Top 5 Money Management Tips for Happy Couples
“Money makes the world go round.”
Although that may not be strictly true, it’s hard to exaggerate its importance. This is especially true when you enter into a relationship with someone and begin planning for the future.
Happy couples make money management a priority. If you’d like to begin doing the same, check out these five habits happy couples practice.
Discussing Money Management with Each Other
Money is often a sensitive topic. In fact, even amongst close friends, it’s considered taboo to bring up the income or inquire about one’s salary.
This helps explain why many couples don’t touch the subject, either. It’s become very common for couples to keep separate accounts and simply share the bills together.
While this may seem plenty sensible, there is evidence to suggest it’s bad for your relationship and bad for your money management goals.
Consider this quote from Ameriprise Financial about couples and finances:
“The study found that couples who are financially in tune discuss money, spending limits, and roles and responsibilities regularly. They also tend to have joint accounts and are more likely to feel that they have enough saved for retirement.”
In other words, financially successful couples tend to do a lot of things the rest of us have been taught are strictly off limits.
If you and your spouse haven’t started to yet, begin making your finances a topic of discussion. You don’t have to skip right to sharing a checking account, but at least start working on a budget.
Also, expect a bit of friction at first. This is a brand new endeavor and, again, it’s one most people avoid for a good reason. Just remember that the tension is worth it in order to prevent bigger problems down the line.
Setting Goals and Spending Limits
Speaking of teamwork, happy couples have the same goals where money is concerned. Amongst other things, this includes coming up with a realistic budget. Again, this may prove to be more of a challenge than you initially expect, but the benefits of putting a cap on your joint spending will pay off.
Of course, part of coming up with a budget is having financial targets to hit. This includes saving for retirement. You may be saving for short-term goals, too, like a new car or a home. Whatever the case, get on the same page and understand what each is going to have to do in order to make these goals into reality.
Agreeing on Spending Habits
This falls right in line with what we just talked about. Agreeing on spending habits will go a long way toward achieving your goals and ensuring you and your spouse avoid unnecessary fights.
Roughly 30% of couples disagree about money at least once a month. Usually, these disagreements are the result of spending habits and/or making major purchases.
Most couples agree that any purchase of more than $400 should be discussed first before it’s made. That amount might be a lot different for you. However, 54% of couples list different amounts than their partner did, which goes back to the importance of speaking with your spouse. Don’t simply assume that you two have the same amount in mind. Even if you seem to be in sync on other financial topics, this assumption could lead to an unnecessary argument.
Of course, once you agree to an amount, stick to it. Don’t act surprised if you break the rules and it causes problems. If you begin to feel like the limit you both agreed on is no longer realistic, sit down with your spouse and talk about it.
They Seek the Help of a Money Management Professional
Lots of couples see a counselor, even those who don’t need necessarily need one. For many couples, having an objective third party has helped them resolve issues and avoid bigger problems.
Don’t forget about how a financial third party could be a big help, too. According to that Ameriprise article I referenced earlier, 40% of couples who had disagreements about money reported that a financial advisor not only helped them with critical decisions but also made a difference in keeping tensions from erupting.
This could have far-reaching effects beyond the obvious. In fact, if you and your spouse are thinking about couples counseling, it may be best to think long and hard about the problem and see if finances aren’t involved.
SunTrust Bank did a study in 2015 which revealed that 35% of couples (married or not) who said they had relationship stress, money was the root cause. This number goes up to 44% when responders were between 44 and 55.
Of those who have advisors, roughly 80% visit them together. 60% decided on who their financial advisor would be together.
Playing to Each Other’s Strengths
Finally, there seems to be a pervasive misconception amongst couples that effective money management means that both have to find some kind of middle ground in terms of their attitudes toward money, spending, saving, etc.
Fortunately, this isn’t true. Like we’ve already touched on, it’s definitely important to have the same goals and be on the same page about budgets and spending.
However, some 73% of people say they have money management styles that differ from that of their partners’. What’s more, 82% report that they move quickly to resolve any money issues with their partners and then move on.
Therefore, when you sit down to talk to your spouse about financial roles within the relationship, don’t automatically assume that you both need to split each responsibility right down the middle.
For example, one of you may be better at setting budgets and then reviewing them. Perhaps, one of you already has their own budget, so it would be relatively easy to expand it to involve the two of you.
Recognizing the strengths and weaknesses you both have will go a long way toward clearing your path to success and diminishing the chances of an unnecessary argument.
As I mentioned earlier, at first, many of the habits covered above will take time and may even bring about an argument or two. Stick with it, though. You and your spouse will be much better off in the long run.