By: Pamela Yellen
1. Recognize that money is an emotional issue – For many men who are wired to be providers, money brings up issues of self-worth, so they take financial conflict to heart. For many women, money represents security, so problems or disputes can bring anxiety and even fear about survival.
Tip: Choose a time when you’re both relaxed and not rushed to start talking about money issues.
2. Talk, talk, and talk some more about your finances together – As in most issues within a relationship, good communication is vital.
Tip: Set goals together, and track your progress.
3. Agree on how to divide your money – If you’ve been together for years and have stumbled along without a clear understanding and agreement about this area, it’s never too late to start.
Tip: Start now. Common topics to cover include individual discretionary spending, household expenses, retirement savings and extended family responsibilities.
4. Avoid taking on too much debt – Couples who live within their means tend to be the happiest, while those with too much debt tend to fight more often and be more stressed about their money.
Tip: Instead of constantly talking about the burden of your debt, talk to each other about your financial goals — where you’d really like to be, and how you’ll get there. Facing your debt as a team can actually strengthen your relationship.
5. Never engage in financial infidelity – Financial cheating can be devastating. One study found that a full one-third of couples with combined finances had not been completely honest about financial issues with their partner.
Tip: If you haven’t been fully honest regarding finances, now is the time to clean it up! Begin the conversation with something like, “I know that neither of us is perfect when it comes to money. Our relationship is important to me, so I want to make sure we have a foundation of honesty about our finances.” No matter what comes up, stay calm, and avoid judgment, and focus on positive solutions going forward.
6. Understand and acknowledge your different spending habits. People tend to look for a spouse who looks, sounds and acts as they do — except when it comes to money. It turns out that penny-pinchers tend to marry reckless spenders, and as a result, they report unhappier marriages than couples who have similar spending habits.
Tip: Seek to understand rather than correct each other. If something in your partner’s attitude bothers you, tell him how you feel and why. See if you can find compromise, but don’t try to “fix” your partner.
“Opposites sometimes do attract,” Pamela says. “You need to be able to respect each other’s differences, and that’s all about being able to sit down and communicate.”
Pamela Yellen is a financial investigator and the author of two New York Times best-selling books, including her latest, The Bank on Yourself Revolution: Fire Your Banker, Bypass Wall Street, and Take Control of Your Own Financial Future. Pamela investigated more than 450 financial strategies seeking an alternative to the risk and volatility of stocks and other investments, which led her to a time-tested, predictable method of growing wealth now used by more than 500,000 Americans.