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It’s no secret that money is the leading cause of stress in relationships. Financial philosophies, which are often inherited from parents, can vary wildly. If you are a saver and your partner is a spendthrift, how can you find harmony when it comes to managing your finances?
Unless you are insanely wealthy, money is involved in almost every decision that you make and financial stress is exacerbated when couples make big life decisions together such as buying a house, starting a family and planning for retirement. It’s not at all surprising that money is cited as the most common cause of divorce!
But if you’re in the relationship boat together, you need to find a way to start rowing in the same direction to avoid constant bickering about money. By setting some ground rules and creating an agreed financial framework, you should both be able to find a degree of financial freedom and steer clear of rows. Here are some pointers to help you put that framework in place:
It is important that all the financial cards are laid out on the table and that both parties know broadly what regular payments are coming in and going out of the household. Usually one person will take control of the day to day bill paying but the other must at least have a broad understanding of the overall financial situation. It is very isolating if one half of the couple is bearing all the stresses and strains of managing the household budget while the other swans around in blissful ignorance. This is often a huge source of resentment which spills over into rows and drives a huge great wedge between partners.
Hiding expenditure or debts is a bad idea. Usually the truth will out at some point and secrets will destroy your partner’s trust in you. Hard as it may be, you need to ‘fess up to any financial misdemeanours in the spirit of openness. Then you can tackle them together.
Building wealth via savings is the cornerstone of a financial plan and for couples it should be a shared endeavour. You definitely need to have a frank discussion about long term life plans and your shared goals, including retirement. Work out how much you need to save to achieve them and decide an amount each of you will put away each month for that purpose. It’s important to note that both of you should have separate retirement savings as, although in an ideal world your golden years will be spent in blissful harmony, things don’t always work out as planned.
Set up automatic monthly transfers of the amount you have each agreed to save so neither of you are tempted to spend it.
While a joint account is necessary for shared household expenses, it’s a good idea for partners to have separate accounts for personal expenditure. The key is to agree how much you each get as ‘pocket money’ every month and stick to it. That money can be used for whatever each person would like – no questions asked. These are the funds you can use to splurge on a weekend away while your label-loving partner can get the new pair of designer shoes they’ve been coveting.
Being one half of a couple can be a wonderful thing – it’s always great having someone in your corner! However it also requires work and compromise – on many fronts but perhaps most of all when it comes to financial matters. Keep things sweet on the financial front by following the above advice and you’ll be celebrating Valentine’s Day together for many more years to come.
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