At the root of every money conversation is a discussion about values and beliefs. When people have fights about money, it’s typically because they have conflicting values. Talking about money with your partner early and often can prevent disagreements and preserve your relationship. Here are some essential money conversations to have with your spouse.
Your Money Personalities
Each person has a money personality, a “way” that they are with money. Some people are savers. Some are spenders. Some think through purchases, carefully weighing the pros can cons. Some are tend to shop impulsively. It’s important to understand how you and your spouse feel about money so you can better work together. Discuss your similarities and differences, not to change each other, but to prevent fights and disagreements about money.
Division of Financial Responsibilities
The two of you may have different financial roles. One may control the checkbook for the joint account and while the other is responsible for creating the budget and tracking spending. No matter which roles the two of you decide to take on, it’s important that you both participate in some capacity and communicate consistently about the status of your finances.
Joint or Separate Accounts
There are advantages and disadvantages to sharing financial accounts and having separate accounts. Only you and your spouse can decide which financial setup will work best for you. A joint account can make it simpler to manage your finances, but having separate accounts allows individuals to freely spend disposable income. You combine the two methods and share an account for household expenses while maintaining your own separate accounts.
Contributions to Savings Goals
After you’ve decided which goals you’ll jointly save for, figure out how much you’ll contribute each month. If you manage your accounts jointly, you might just sweep a certain amount from the joint checking account to the joint savings account each month. Or, couples that decide to maintain separate accounts may transfer funds to a joint savings account. The perfect solution is the one that works best for you. And if the one method doesn’t work, discuss it and figure out a better solution.
Debt can stand in the way of your other financial goals like saving for retirement or setting aside money for your children to go to college. If you have debt, discuss a plan for paying it off. Maybe you’ll both get second jobs or start a business together. Be careful not to assign blame or make each other feel guilty about debt. The goal is to get rid of the debt and the habits that caused it.
Bailing Out Loved Ones
You can almost count on a friend or family member asking for financial help at least once in your marriage, possibly more. Before you ever have to deal with it, come up with a policy for how you’ll handle these requests. Once you’ve made an agreement, it’s important to stick to it.
Money problems are often cited as one of the top causes of divorce. Having the necessary conversations and reaching a mutually beneficial arrangement can reduce the likelihood of money problems coming between you and your spouse.