Spring is the season of love.
However, thinking about money might make you feel anything but romantic. Did you know that, according to a survey conducted for the American Institute of CPAs, financial matters are the most common source of marital discord? Couples average three arguments per month about money — more than they argue about kids, chores, work, or friends. Plus, 65 percent of people said they argue about money in their relationship, according to a Manilla.com survey. So, what can you and your spouse do to stop fighting about money? Here are a few tips.
1. Plan ahead. The more planning you do upfront the less likely you’ll be to have disputes later on. Create a budget and make a list of “wants” versus “needs.” Put them both in writing. In addition, create a fund for unexpected expenses that might pop up.
2. Carve out some money for each of you to spend the way you want. After the bills have been paid, allow yourselves each a little fun money with no judgments allowed on how it gets spent.
3. Establish some ground rules. If you and your spouse disagree on a purchase, how are you going to handle it? Will you default to the least expensive option? Will each person get one purchase veto per month? Obviously, you can’t anticipate every disagreement. But if you can set some ground rules regarding financial decisions, it’ll be easier to handle them when they come up.
4. Have a weekly, or at least monthly, money date. Set aside a time for you and your spouse to talk about your finances. Make it fun by cooking a special meal together, taking a walk, or pairing it with another activity you both enjoy. You can also decide to make it a day where you don’t do any other chores. Let yourselves off the hook with any other housework for that day.
5. Find other couples to share ideas with. Find out what’s worked for them and what hasn’t. You may be hesitant to talk about your finances, not just with your spouse, but with family and friends as well. But open, honest conversations about money are key to achieving your financial goals.
Marriage is a romantic relationship, but it’s also a business partnership. Money can be a sensitive subject for couples. As is true with so many other marital issues, communication is key. Talk regularly about money. Turn discussing your financial dreams and how you’re going to achieve them into a rewarding experience rather than a battle.
Clare K. Levison is a certified public accountant and author of Frugal Isn’t Cheap: Spend Less, Save More, and Live Better. She is a national financial literacy spokesperson for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and has appeared on major radio and television networks across the country.
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