Whether you and your partner merged finances many moons ago or are new to the world of shared finances, you’re bound to disagree over financial issues. In fact, money is the biggest stressor in romantic relationships, with 35% of couples saying it’s the primary cause of friction in their relationship.
So how should you handle it? Every couple has different opinions and flashpoints, but these 5 tips should help you resolve and avoid many of your cash clashes.
1. Press the Pause Button
If the tension is mounting and you feel like you’re about to shout or say something, well, regrettable, take Thomas Jefferson’s timeless advice: “When angry, count to 10 before you speak; if very angry, 100.” Money makes people feel particularly passionate because it’s both a safety net and a status symbol. But taking a breath and maybe even a walk can help you process your thoughts and react in a more constructive, less emotional way. #SerenityNow
2. Look Back
Feelings about money often stem from childhood and how your family dealt with finances. In a calmer moment, try talking to your partner about both of your financial backgrounds. How did your parents handle money? What did they teach you about it? What are your favorite and least favorite things about money? Digging deeper into each other’s past may explain a lot about you now. It also might help you empathize with each other’s feelings.
3. Look Forward
The biggest disagreements about money sometimes arise when one partner is a spender and the other is a saver. If that’s the case for you, try to get ahead of it by aligning on your goals and brainstorming on ways to achieve them.
Start with goals because that’s the fun part. We’d start with 3-5 near-ish term goals, since they are often easier to pick. Maybe it’s a Caribbean adventure. Or paying down some debt. Whatever you choose, a target will help you stay motivated and in sync.
With your destination in mind, you can map a route for getting there. Yes, that’s a euphemism for a budget. That’s not a fun word to write or thing to do. But it will mean fewer fights and more vacations, so it’s worth the effort. (If you need help starting one, check out 6 Steps For Budgeting As A Couple and Make Budgeting As A Couple Fun (Or At Least Kinda).) We also suggest agreeing on some general ground rules. Like how much are you comfortable spending without talking to the other person first. And if you’re splitting the bills, who is responsible for paying what.
4. Check In Regularly
A lot of times, disagreements turn into blowups when stuff goes undiscussed. Don’t let that happen. Make it a habit to check in regularly about your money. If you don’t believe us, ask science. Studies show that couples are happier when they talk about money more.
Discussing money regularly doesn’t mean critiquing every purchase your partner makes. But it does mean tracking your progress toward your goals and tweaking accordingly. If you’re looking for a tool to simplify that process, look no further. Here at Honeyfi, we’ve built an app to help couples collaborate and communicate about money, whether your finances are completely combined or totally separate. #ShamelessPlug
5. Allow an Allowance
Sometimes, people need breathing room. Your partner may love you but never understand your need to buy the Golden Girls 25th-anniversary box set. But if you’re not going over your budget, what’s the harm? And why does your partner need to judge you for it? (Your partner sounds like a monster btw.)
That’s where an allowance can come in handy. With an allowance, both partners put all of their income into a joint account but give themselves “allowances” each month by moving a set amount of money from their joint account to their individual accounts. For many couples, that’s a better balance between teamwork and independence.
When you mix relationships and money, tension is inevitable. But, as it turns out, people tend to be wealthier when they are married. So, working through your money disagreements might mean not only a healthier relationship but also a healthier bank account.