Couples fight about any and everything. Money should not be one of them. In my house, I know that I am the one who is better with money. Therefore, I realize that the burden is mine to take care of our savings, retirement and all of the more complicated money-related issues. And I’m happy to do it. I know that the Mrs. will come to me for “help” every now and again, and I’m happy to do it for many reasons. Most importantly, her money is my money and vice-versa. I know that she would help me, and it is all relative. More on our personal situation later.
Separate Accounts or Separate Finances Entirely-
Many couples flourish by maintaining their money separately. Others use a hybrid approach by splitting responsibilities. I once knew a couple who had quite an interesting dichotomy-The man was an attorney, the woman, a Human Resources associate at a retail location. Needless to say, the attorney’s salary dwarfed the HR woman. They had been married for a few years when I met them. What is unusual to me is that despite her small salary (in comparison to his), the only bills they shared were the mortgage, utilities, cable and food. Everything else they took responsibility for on their own. While he was out writing checks to Ameritrade for tens of thousands of dollars, she was irritated that she only had $5 for lunch.
Even though she struggled and he thrived, both were fine with the arrangement. If one was in trouble, I’m sure the other would gladly step in and take care of things. But they found what worked for them and carried it out how they saw fit.
Keep a Dialogue-
If you are (or have been) fighting about money, I’m willing to bet that you haven’t been talking about money. There have been times in my own home that if I felt “out of the loop”, I have gotten angry. If we are short somewhere and will need money for something, I would rather know far in advance so I can prepare for it.
Talking about money (while keeping it civil) is the best way for couples to avoid a brawl. Even if it is “bad” news, deliver it calmly. Then discuss how you can overcome the problem. A solution is the goal, not bachelorhood.
Know (and prepare for) Your Partner’s Financial Shortcomings-
As I stated in the intro, I know my partner’s habits. I also realize where her financial weaknesses are and do my best to be able to counter them with good habits on my part. For a couple with both members who have financial issues, it will be even harder. But not impossible. Prepare for and expect financial speed-bumps, because they will happen. If you know that your partner may stumble through certain financial issues, be there to help them out. It will make you look like superman (or woman) and could even strengthen your relationship.
Help Each Other Out-
In addition to knowing your partner’s potential weaknesses, willingness to help will go a loooooong way. There will be times in life when your partner will not be making as much as you. There could be times when they are without a job at all. Everyone needs money to survive. So be willing and able to help your partner when they have fallen on tough times. Ideally, this should work both ways.
Have (and Stick to) a Budget-
By far the easiest (and most important) way to make a couple’s finances work without killing each other is to follow a budget. And it doesn’t even have to be a strict one. Not all budgets are stringent and confining. Even if you relegate certain responsibilities to each other as opposed to a written-out budget it can work wonders for avoiding a big battle.
Aren’t you much more efficient at work if you know what is expected of you? The same works for money matters at home. If you know what you are responsible for and cab properly prepare, problems are much easier to see coming and avoid.
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