Since 2007 money has topped the list of sources of stress for Americans, with almost two-thirds reporting that money caused them very significant or somewhat significant stress.
Money is also the leading cause of stress in relationships, with 70% of married couples arguing about money. According to research arguments about money are by far the top predictor of divorce, and fights around money take longer to recover from than any other type of argument.
Reading all of that might make everything seem hopeless. After all, don’t all married couples fight about money? No! My wife and I have been married for almost 20 years and we have never had a fight about money. We had a lot to learn about money together, but we have never fought about money.
In addition, I have been counseling individuals and couples about money for close to 20 years and have learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t work. Through personal experience, counseling experience, and research, I have discovered many things that financially healthy couples do with money.
Here are my top ten tips for couples:
1. Find a financial counselor that can help you walk through everything. A trained financial counselor understands the financial side of money and the emotional side of money. I strongly suggest couples work with an Accredited Financial Counselor, which can be found at http://afcpe.org/find-an-afc. If you are not married yet, see a Financial Counselor as part of your pre-marital counseling.
2. Meet as a couple on a regular basis and discuss (discuss – not fight) your budget, goals, dreams, and creative solutions to your financial challenges.
3. Each partner in the couple should take the online Money Habitudes assessment. This tool will help you understand your money habits and attitudes, and will give you important tools and knowledge to discuss with each other and your financial counselor. You can learn more here: https://online.moneyhabitudes.com/
4. Set financial goals together and work towards achieving those goals.
5. Make sure each partner has money they can spend on whatever they want.
6. Set some money aside for each partner to be able to grow and develop their talents. For example, if your spouse wants to learn to play tennis, they could sign up for lessons. If you want to learn how to cook healthy meals, you could take a class. Even better, see if there is a class you both would enjoy.
7. Spend money on experiences, not things.
8. Be sure there is absolutely NO financial infidelity in your marriage (financial lies). Few things will destroy trust in a marriage faster than lying about money.
9. Review both partners credit reports on a regular basis (at least once a year).
10. Learn about money together – listen to podcasts and read books together. A few suggestions for podcasts include Stacking Benjamins, You Need a Budget, The Ric Edelman Show, and Money Tree Investing. A few books I recommend are You Need a Budget, The Difference, and How Rich People Think.
What other tips do you have for making money work in your marriage or relationship? Please share in the comments below or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RyanHLawBlog/
American Psychological Association (2017, November 1). APA Stress in America survey. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2017/11/lowest-point.aspx
Jacques, S. (2013, July 12). Researcher find correlation between financial arguments, decreased relationship satisfaction. Retrieved from https://www.k-state.edu/media/newsreleases/jul13/predictingdivorce71113.html
MagnifyMoney (2017, February 13). 21% of divorcees cite money as the cause of their divorce, MagnifyMoney survey shows. Retrieved from https://www.magnifymoney.com/blog/featured/money-causes-21-percent-divorces925885150/
Money (2014, June 1). Poll: How husbands and wives really feel about their finances. Retrieved from http://time.com/money/2800576/love-money-by-the-numbers/.
Vincent, S., (2015, February 4). Love and money: People say they save, partner spends, according to SunTrust survey. Retrieved from http://investors.suntrust.com/news/news-details/2015/Love-and-Money-People-Say-They-Save-Partner-Spends-According-to-SunTrust-Survey/default.aspx