You don’t want to argue about money with your husband or wife — but statistically speaking, you’re likely to do so. Money is the most common source of arguments among married couples and money-related fighting is one of the leading factors cited in divorces.
How can you lower the risk of arguing about money with your spouse? Here are a few tips.
Everyone has a different basic mindset about money that they carry into every conversation. Before you discuss specifics like your budget or debt, take a step backward and establish the basic “frameworks,” or mindsets, that each of you carry into the conversation.
Here are a few common mindsets:
Chat with your spouse about which of these mindsets you identify with. Not everyone will perfectly fit into just one box. These mindsets are a “spectrum,” and people will exist on all levels of these, to varying degrees.
Money is a tool that can help you reach your goals, so have a heart-to-heart about where you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, or 20 years. If you want a beautiful vacation home in Italy, for example, what steps are you taking today to make that goal a reality? If you cut your clothing budget in half, could you put the rest of that money into a fund that saves for the downpayment on your ideal home?
Talk about both long-term and immediate goals. You might set an immediate goal of getting out of debt within the next 3 months, for example, or opening a retirement savings account. You may also have a 5-year goal of buying another car in cash, and a 10-year goal of buying your dream home.
Discuss whether you or your spouse will be the official “money administrator,” or manager. This doesn’t mean that the appointed person makes all the decisions. It just means that the appointed person is in charge of making sure the bills get paid on time, making sure the accounts have enough money within them to cover the bills, and other clerical and administrative duties.
You and your spouse can theoretically split this, but sometimes it’s easier for one person to handle it. Balance the workload by putting the other person in charge of comparison-shopping for insurance plans once a year, or perhaps just putting the other person in charge of a different household task like cleaning the bathroom.
Aim for open, frequent communication around money that focuses on your shared goals. Conversations about money aren’t about assigning blame for bad decisions, or about imposing restrictions on another person’s spending. Instead, it’s about the two of you pursuing goals together.
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