A recent survey of nearly 1,000 couples who are married, engaged, or in a relationship found nearly 75% said they had gotten mad at their partner because of a financial decision they made without talking about it first. The majority of those decisions were a big-ticket purchase made without discussing it first.
Other financial decisions that irked spouses were:
- Hiding debt
- Not saving enough for future big purchases or agreed upon financial milestones
- Spending money from savings
“You can’t have a great relationship until you can communicate and agree about money. Money is either the best or the worst area of communication in our marriages” says author and long-time financial counselor, Larry Burkett. Many finance and relationship experts agree: money arguments aren’t really over money at all, they are about our different value systems and that translates into how we spend (or save) money.
If you find you are at odds with your partner over finances more often than you would like, here are three tips to help spark meaningful conversation and get to the bottom of the problem and find solutions:
- Discuss your lifestyle choices: Maybe you’re the one that is perfectly content shopping at Goodwill for your new spring outfits, but your significant other only goes for the name-brand items at full price. If you have an income that doesn’t support expensive taste, that’s going to be a problem. Relationships are all about compromise. If one of you has more expensive taste, you don’t have to go without. Consider shopping at an outlet mall to snag those name brands you want at more affordable prices.
- Understand the differences in your personality: Opposites attract, right? Chances are, one of you loves working with numbers and balancing your accounts to the penny, and the other one would rather spend until that card is declined and then figure out what to do. One of you might be the saver and the other is more inclined to spend. Sure, personality differences are the cause of some relationship problems, but it isn’t the real root of your issues. The source of the problem is whenever one person chooses not to hear the other’s input, or when one person is cut out from handling the financial decisions altogether. Remember, in the end, you’re both on the same team and you need to use your difference in personalities to meet in the middle.
- Keep purchases out in the open. Remember how this article started? The majority of money fights are when you surprise your significant other with a financial decision you made without their knowledge. That savings account you have on the side, the credit card you opened without their knowledge, the big tv you bought on a whim… even with the best of intentions can usually the start of a good fight. If it’s too late, you need to work toward establishing financial trust again. Recommit to your shared financial goals and remember why you’re doing it. You’re in this together!
In the end, remember why you chose this person as your significant other. In the heat of the moment, you may not realize it but you need their skills, insight, and perspective—especially the ones you don’t have (and they need yours!)