Money disagreements wreak havoc on relationships and can often lead to divorce. Financial stress will likely spill over into your health and your career, causing even more problems. Learn these three tips to start constructive money conversations now and keep financial stress at bay.
Your relationship probably started off with some joint goals - buying a house, traveling, having a family. These goals tend to get lost in the hustle-bustle of life. Make some time to sit down and talk about what you want to achieve during the next year. I usually recommend that you have one serious goal (i.e. buying a house) and one fun goal (i.e. travel).
Once you decide on your goals, figure out how much money you need to set aside each month to achieve them. For example, you may need to set aside $300 each month for a down payment for a house and $200 each month for a vacation. Write these goals on a piece of paper and keep them on your fridge, next to the bathroom mirror, or anywhere else you can easily see them. This will be your motivation for shifting your non-essential spending to something you both want.
Since life should be about celebrations, decide on a reward for either reaching your goal or for milestones if the goal will take a long time to achieve. If you are saving money for a trip, the trip itself will be the reward. If you are saving money for a down payment, plan on a weekend away or a fun purchase for your house when you reach the halfway mark.
My husband and I once spent three entire days fighting over a $15 manicure. Sounds silly, doesn't it? But these are the types of arguments that crop up when money is tight and every dollar counts. To minimize these fights, decide on a monthly amount of money each person can spend on whatever they want. For example, if you fight over how much you each spend on clothes and golf, jointly decide on an annual or monthly amount of money to spend on these items. Figure out how to maximize that money, knowing that when it is gone, there is no more spending.
Read this article for some money-saving tips.
Just spending five minutes a week asking each other the following questions can go a long way toward constructively talking about money:
- How much money is in the checking account?
- Have all of the bills been paid? If not, what needs to be paid and is there enough money to pay them now?
- Are there any upcoming expenses we need to be concerned about?
These tips should help you productively talk about money on a regular basis, avoid fighting about it and free up your energy to focus on your relationships, your health and your career.