Fighting about money in a relationship is one of the leading causes of divorce in the United States. It’s the biggest reason people fight in relationships – more than infidelity, children, or anything else. And unfortunately, talking about money doesn’t seem to help – but that’s because people talk about it the wrong way. Instead of having a heated argument over money where everyone gets defensive, it really helps to plan out a strategy and have an honest discussion about money. Plan on how you and your partner will spend it and save it, and try to stick to the plan by helping each other. It’s not enough that both people agree on a plan, sticking to it is harder, but is worth it.
Start with small changes that you both make, and make sure each person is accountable for them. Examples of small changes are not using credit cards as often or for certain purchases, spending less on travel, taking public transportation, etc. Once you have a few of these small successes under your belt, you’ll be able to make bigger changes that will eventually really help you both and help the relationship.
There are a lot of financial decisions that need to be made with your partner:
Credit Cards — Do you both use the same card and share the bill? Do you keep separate cards and each are responsible for their own bill? What limits are involved?
Bank Accounts — Again, do you prefer a joint bank account where you share all the bills, or will you both continue to bank separately?
Debt — The debt in a relationship can really cause a lot of damage, because a lot of the time embarrassment will cause one person to hide the amount of debt from their partner. So you trade a much smaller problem that you can face together (debt) into a breach of trust in the relationship. This is potentially extremely damaging and can lead to a break up or divorce. Debt needs to be put out in the open, and a plan to pay it off that you both make together.
Savings — Creating a savings plan and sticking to it will also really help in the relationship. While it may seem tough to get through every month with what you have, it’s important to try and save a little every month. This will really help when something unexpected comes up, and the pain of saving a little each month is much less than the pain of not having any cushion when things don’t go according to plan.
Secrets — Out of all these issues, keeping secrets from your partner can be the most damaging. Whether you are hiding a separate bank account, a gambling problem, or holding out on debt – these issues pale in comparison to the continued lying and deception that is necessary to keep these secrets. The worst mistake you can make is to keep a secret – try to put it out there, because trust is much more important than money in a relationship.