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Money Moves for a Happy Marriage

Financial arguments are common in relationships – spouses are often on different wavelengths regarding spending and budgeting. As a matter of fact, financial arguments are one of the most common forms of disagreement. One spouse may be extremely frugal, while the other spouse considers shopping a hobby. Of course this difference in views can create problems.

But even if you and your spouse are miles apart in spending philosophy, there are ways to reach a common ground. Whether you’re talking about next month’s budget, retirement planning or an insurance policy, financial discussions are important and should be the place you start… long before arguments happen.

Do you want to avoid money arguments? Try this approach….

Agree to Discuss Major Purchases

Talk with your spouse before buying a big-ticket item like a carYou may have a job and make your own money but the mature, responsible thing to do is to discuss major purchases with your spouse. In other words, don’t buy a car without first discussing it with your spouse, even if you’re making the payment. This also applies to expensive electronics, such as a new computer or wide screen television.

Many people don’t like surprises, plus, there could be things going on with your family’s finances that you’re not aware of yet. Perhaps, your spouse fears that his job is in jeopardy, but he doesn’t want to say anything until he knows for sure. Imagine his panic if you came home with a new expensive item. Plus discussing purchases is a good way to weigh the pros and cons of an item and be sure you are getting the best deal and a product that is properly suited to the purpose intended. After all two heads are better than one, so make use of the built in sounding board in your spouse. When both spouses are comfortable with a purchase the marriage will be much more harmonious.

Does this mean you should discuss all purchases before you make them? That depends on the couple. You should agree on a dollar limit that you are both comfortable with. For instance, you may agree to discuss any purchase over $50, $100, $500 or whatever. This amount will be different for each couple, depending on their monthly budget and personal preferences. The key is to agree on a dollar figure before hand. So that there are no unpleasant surprises.

Don’t Lie About Your Debt

A good marriage is never built on deception no matter how small. You may not be proud of your debt and you may prefer to down play how much you owe in order to protect your spouse, however, in the long run this doesn’t do any good. If anything, it creates bigger issues. Let’s say your spouse learns of your actual balance. Not only will they become upset, they might have trouble trusting you. No matter how embarrassing the situation, always be honest about your finances. If your spouse doesn’t know about the debt they might spend more freely than if they know the true situation. Remember you are a team, together, you and your spouse are more prepared to work out a plan to get rid of that debt.

Develop a Spending Plan Together

Each week or month, sit down with your spouse and decide how you’ll spend money for the next week or month. A spending plan or budget is a key way to keep your finances on track. This way, you both know where the household funds go, and with a plan in place, you’re less likely to overspend on things you don’t need. But don’t be controlling. Problems can develop when one person is controlling and dictates how the other spends his or her money. You need to agree on things in advance. If you’re the more responsible one, you may have a plan for paying down debt, saving money and reaching other financial goals. But the fact that you’re good with money doesn’t give you the right to make all the financial decisions and ignore your spouse’s feelings. Your spouse may resent you “treating them like a child” or feel that you don’t love them because their “Love Language” is gifts. So it is important to find out how they feel and work out a system that is acceptable to both. This may include each person having a certain amount of money that they can do anything they want with. Or it might include a mandatory dinner out once a week or once a month or whatever.

But, to avoid problems, you have to work together and agree on how you’ll use funds. This is best done before-hand rather than in “the heat of battle” when an impulse purchase presents itself. If you have agreed in advance you can show your spouse whether there are funds set aside for that purchase or not and gently remind them of their agreement to the plan.

Prepare for the Future

Good marriages depend on good planning for how you will handle surprises. Have you set aside money for emergencies, college, and retirement? What about other surprises like health problems or even death of a loved one?  Do you really want to worry about money if your husband or wife dies? Unfortunately, this is a common scenario when couples don’t purchase life insurance. The death benefit your spouse receives can provide years of financial support. At a minimum he or she needs enough to cover your funeral expenses. But they also need enough to make up for your lost income so they don’t lose the house, or the car and can still pay off your loans, etc.  Buying life insurance isn’t like buying a lottery ticket, it is a form of financial planning to protect against potentially devastating circumstances. SILI has provided a simple, yet detailed insurance guide to help you find a quick, affordable policy. Whether you’re interested in term or whole life insurance plan, there’s a policy for you.

Don’t let money arguments take the joy out of your marriage. It may take you and your spouse some time to get on the same page – but you’ll eventually get there.

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Image courtesy of Teerapun / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About Lisa McMahon