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Couples and Money: End the Budgeting Bickering

By Debt.ca on February 3, 2020 No Comments
Don't fight over money!

When it comes to couples and money, not every pair shares the same views. You’ve probably heard opposites attract. While that may be the spark that makes your relationship work, it can also lead to problems, especially when it comes to money.

If you don’t discuss your finances or spending decisions together, you may not be working towards the same goal. As equal partners, consider setting ground rules when it comes to discussing money and spending.

In this article, we’re going to talk about couples and money, and the conversations we must have around finances. We’ll look at how to figure out if you and your partner spenders or savers, stopping money fights before they begin, and how to set financial goals together as a couple.

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The Spender

If you’re a spender, you like to have fun. This usually means regularly going out, dining at nice restaurants, drinking fine wine and buying new clothes. Fancy vacations are essential to you, so is your lifestyle.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a spendthrift, but you might have a more difficult time working towards a long term goal like saving for retirement.

The Saver

There are different types of savers out there. If you’re a saver, it could mean that you regularly track your spending, so you know exactly where your money is going. On the other hand, you could be a little more obsessive about saving, forgoing visits to the dentist to save more money.

As a saver, you most likely have money set aside as an emergency fund. You also most likely have a retirement account set up.

While you may splurge from time to time, you’re more likely to plan ahead before doing so.

Spenders versus Savers

If you’re a saver and your partner is a spender, you probably argue about money all the time. As a saver, you’ll take the time to create a budget, while your partner, the spender, wants no part of it.

Your partner may get upset that you never have fun, while you get upset that you’re not putting away enough money for retirement.

Out of Control Spending

This fundamental difference in the philosophy about money can lead to you two frequently fighting about money.

As a saver, you may feel obliged to take care of the household finances on your own, giving allowances to other family members. As a spender, you may rebel against your partner by making massive purchases on your credit card without first discussing it, putting your family in a worse financial situation.

In some situations, things can get even worse. A spendthrift partner may gamble to attempt to pay back debt, leading to even more financial problems.

Talking About Money

The first step is to realize that your partner isn’t going to become a saver like you. It all comes down to a fundamental difference in views about money.

The heart of the matter is if your partner is a spender, they want to prioritize short term goals, while if you’re a saver, you want to prioritize long-term goals. Neither of you should be against this. It all comes down to being open and honest with your partner and coming up with financial plans that work for both of you.

Make the Most of Today or Save for Tomorrow?

Some savers take saving to the extreme. You could become so obsessed with saving that you ignore important stuff like your health, as well as the best years of your life.

On the other hand, living each day like it’s your last can have dire consequences. You could struggle to accomplish long term financial goals like buying a home or retiring.

The First Step

At this point, you should know whether you and your partner are either a spender or a saver. To open up the lines of communication, think about what you might be missing out on in life by being a spender or a saver. Think about how these things might make you happier (without thinking about the cost).

How to Begin a Conversation about Money

As a couple, every decision you make together involves spending and saving money in some capacity. How your family spends money (or doesn’t) represents your joint priorities as a married couple.

Whenever a disagreement comes up over money, instead of trying to change your partner’s opinion, take a step back for a moment.

Having a Conversation about Your Family’s Future

Every dollar that you spend on something is money that can’t go towards a long term goal. When married couples fight over managing money, it’s essential to take a step back and reflect on how it will affect your long term family finances.

If you’d like early retirement, you might not be able to buy a big-screen TV today. If you’d like to pay off your credit card debt before the end of the year, then you might have to skip the family vacation this year. It’s all about sacrificing something where you’re both on board.

What are you Working to Achieve?

It might be difficult to stop in the middle of an argument and ask your partner to think about retirement, but try it. Is that big screen TV that important? Setting goals as a couple is crucial to your success. Why would you want to be with someone who wants completely different things?

Most important of all, focus on how you can work things out. If you want to retire in the countryside and your partner wants to travel the world, you’re going to have some money issues.

If you want to live a life without debt, but you own a fancy sports car that you can’t afford, you’re going to have problems.

By having common goals, you can grow closer as a couple. Choices become more fun and less of a chore when you’re both on the same page.

Joint or Separate Bank Accounts?

Something you’ll want to give some thought to is your bank accounts. Should you go with a joint account or separate accounts? It depends.

If you’re on the same financial page, you might try a joint account, but if you’re always arguing over money, a joint account may not work. It’s different with every couple, so figure out what works best with your relationship.

You Can Enjoy Some Things, But You Can’t Enjoy Everything

This saying really holds true when it comes to personal finances. While your friends may make fun of you for not buying a new TV set, you’ll be laughing at them all the way to the bank when you’re able to retire early.

Having a partner to smile alongside will make the process that much easier. It’s that attitude that can stop money fights from happening in the first place.

Why Set Financial Goals?

Goal setting is essential. Think about all your accomplishments in life. You probably knew what success looked like before you got started.

Knowing your goal is also crucial for your partner. By identifying where you’re going, it can help motivate and excite you.

Step 1: Assess Your Current Financial Situation

It’s important to know where you are right now and where you’d like to go. Start by making a list of your checking account, savings accounts, debt, salaries, and sources of income.

Step 2: Set Some Boundaries

An excellent place to start would be to aim not to borrow any more money. Aim to make this an operating principle that you both understand and are committed to going forward.

Think about other money beliefs that you have and make sure your partner agrees. Think about possible money situations like borrowing money from family, gambling, tax evasion, etc.

Whatever you come up with, make sure you’re both on the same financial page. This will help you set goals and execute them later on.

Step 3: Start Thinking for the Long Term

Do some brainstorming and think about how you’d like your life to look in the next 10, 15 and 25 years. Are you and your partner on the same page? Try to find some common ground. Come up with a financial path that you can both work toward.

Be sure to think about stuff like your debt goals, savings goals, things you’d like to buy, places you’d like to go, and whether you’d like kids.

Step 4: Short Term Goals

Now that you know the destination you’d like to reach, you can start working towards achieving it. To reach your financial goals in 10 years, where will you have to be in five years? What about in two years? What about the next year?

As you get closer to reaching your goal, you can start breaking down your goals. For example, if your goal is to be debt free next year, you can list your credit cards, how much you owe and figure out how you’ll pay them off.

Attention to detail here is vital. Are your goals realistic? If they aren’t, you might consider adjusting your goals or figuring out how to accomplish them sooner.

Goal Setting with a Target

Couples and money can be a bad mixture. But once you’ve gone through the process of having open conversations, you should be in a much better financial position. Think about how great life will be once you accomplish your goals. You can bask in the glory that you’re one step closing to achieving them.

By sharing a target, you can work together instead of against each other. If your goal is to pay off your credit card debt, it should be less of an awkward conversation when your partner suggests buying that fancy couch on a cash advance.

Most important, don’t forget that whenever you talk about money, you should be working towards your goals. You and your partner should be facing the same direction and not in each other’s faces. By doing this simple thing, you should be well on your way to financial success as a couple.

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