Marital arguments about money have been going on since the invention of money. While all arguments can take their toll, disagreements over finances can be particularly distressing. Studies show that money issues are among the leading causes of divorce! This is a worthwhile subject to get under control. Not only will your finances improve, but your marriage will strengthen, too.
These steps can keep money arguments to a minimum:
- Agree on a budget. Many couples don’t have a budget, but a budget is useful for everyone, even billionaires. If you can both agree on a spending plan, many potential arguments can be avoided. After all, if someone is outspending the budget, it’s difficult to argue about fault.
- It’s practically impossible to get a budget right on the first attempt. Good budgets evolve over a few months. It will take some tinkering to get it right. Be patient and make the necessary adjustments as you go along.
- Use the information you already have. Pull out old bills and use some real numbers. Remember to consider expenses that occur less frequently than once a month. New tires, home repairs, and medical expenses are just a few ideas.
- Be completely open. Many couples are exactly sure how much money their spouse is making. Many more spouses are in the dark about their partner’s debt and credit history. It’s not always easy, but a full financial disclosure can prevent many disagreements.
- Knowing each other’s financial status will make it easier to agree on a financial plan.
- This includes being honest about all spending. More than a few women hide clothing and shoe purchases from their spouse in the back of the closet. More than a few men buy tools on a regular basis and sneak them into the garage. Be honest.
- Set financial goals together. If you’re both working toward the same things, it will bring you closer together. Partnership and marriage go hand in hand. Sharing a vision is an effective way of limiting arguments.
- Sit down together and dream big about the future. Then decide how that looks financially. What plans will you have to make? How will you accomplish them? Set a deadline and get busy.
- Deal with discrepancies in pay. In most cases, one spouse has a greater salary than the other. Splitting the bills 50:50 might be fair in one context, but it can also create resentment. One option is to pay the bills relative to the salaries. So, if one person is making $100k, and the other is making $50k, the bills would be split 2/3 and 1/3.
- Deal with discrepancies in expenses and debt. If one spouse has child support payments to make or a large amount of student loan debt, the other might want to consider making adjustments for this when dealing with the bills. Partners help each other out. If you want to share in the windfalls, it’s only fair to share with the less agreeable things, too.
- Handle disagreements in a healthy manner. Disagreements will occur, no matter how good the intentions. It’s important to keep the discussion centered on behaviors and not people. There’s a difference between, “This purchase wasn’t within our budget” and “You ruined our budget.”
- When a disagreement occurs, find a solution that will prevent a reoccurrence.
Minimizing money-related arguments is a great way to strengthen a marriage. It’s also a great way to get your finances under control. Many of the steps involved will encourage healthy finances. Protect your marriage and do what’s necessary to eliminate money arguments.