They say money is the root of all evil. Whether or not that is true is debatable. What we do know is true is that money is the basis for many of the fights in a relationship. A recent study showed that arguments about money were the largest predictor for divorce. In other words, a couple that can’t agree about how to handle money could find themselves dividing the money they have and parting ways.
If you want to avoid that less than happy ending to your relationship, there are things you can do to find a middle ground regarding money. However, it could require sacrifices from both parties, so this should be considered when attempting to have the budget discussion.
Generally, there are two types of people where money is concerned: savers and spenders. Savers range from those who put away 10 percent every pay, take care of the bills then go crazy with the rest, to the person who saves every dime possible – just in case. Spenders range from conservative, pay all the bills and then have fun with the rest to the no self-discipline type who spend money on whatever looks good, regardless of the consequences later.
You can see why there might be problems if an extreme saver marries an extreme spender. But the differences don’t even need to be that extreme for money problems to creep into a relationship. Even two moderates could disagree about how to save their money or how to spend the disposable income. What Money Type Are You?
Both people in the relationship need to determine whether they are spenders or savers – and then which type. It’s important for both to be honest about the type of money person they are. This information is important when it comes time to put the budget plan together. Are You Willing to Change?
Although it might seem like common sense to save money, some just don’t see it as a priority. There could be deep-seated underlying issues for why a person can’t or won’t save money. In contrast, there are those who could afford to loosen the purse strings a bit, but they too could have personal reasons for saving money as they do. The question is, is a person willing to try and change their spending or saving habits for the sake of the relationship? If so, then it’s time to move on to the actual budget. Prioritize
Make a list of the bills that must be paid, no matter what. These generally include the rent or mortgage, car payments and major utilities. That takes care of the roof over your head, the water, the heat, the lights and getting you to and from work. You should also have a rainy day fund for unexpected expenses. Once you both agree that these must be paid on time and without exception and you agree to how much to put into the rainy day fund, you can move on to the next group of bills. Credit cards and Miscellaneous Expenses
If you have credit cards, at one point or another there will be a fight over them. Either one partner overspends on the card or the other refuses to use it. You should agree about how the credit cards are to be used. Are they for emergencies only, special occasion purchases or will you use them like cash and pay them off at the end of the month? There needs to be a consensus on this. If one cannot be reached, then either the credit cards need to be cut up or each person is responsible for their own card separate from the household expenses. Bank Accounts – Joint or Separate
Many people believe that a married or committed couple must have joint accounts. However, a lot of money issues can be resolved by separating bank accounts. As long as both are paying what they are responsible to pay, how the remainder of his or her money is spent is up to him or her. Some money issues are caused because one partner doesn’t like how the other spends their extra money. Frankly, once the household bills are paid and the rainy day fund is fed, it’s really not the other person’s business how that money is spent. A separate account alleviates this issue.
There will always be reasons for a couple to fight, but with some planning and honesty, money doesn’t have to be one of them. It’s not always easy to create a positive atmosphere and proactive process for a healthy discussion on one of the issues so historically and profoundly linked to marital happiness. But if money problems are taking a toll on your marriage, take action today in order to turn things around. You just might be amazed at how much more time and energy you’ll have for each other.