Sadly, a recent Money magazine survey revealed 6 in 10 husbands and wives check their bank balances more often than they have sex.
Surprising? Not really. Seventy percent of couples said money causes most of their spats. Yes, finances are a more common source of disagreement and irritation than household chores, snoring or what’s for dinner.
What’s all this fighting about? The top four trouble spots are: spending; saving; deceit; and exclusion from decisions. If these sound familiar, I have some strategies to help you stop fighting and start cooperating.
Frivolous spending is the incendiary behavior igniting most arguments about use and misuse of money.
To stop clashing over who is spending what, jointly develop a spending plan; create a budget, allocate spending money for each person and spend with integrity.
Your budget should account for: basic necessities; debts and other obligations; expenses that occur less than monthly; and not-necessary, but nice-to-have items.
If you don’t budget some money for discretionary spending, it’s likely you would wind up spending anyway – and probably too much. So put it in your budget, then stop spending when you run out!
Stick to your plan – this is spending with integrity. Using a cash envelope will help you be accountable. When you decide how much discretionary spending fits into your monthly budget, put that amount in cash in an envelope for its designated purpose.
Thirty-seven percent of couples fight about saving money. In my experience, lack of savings is a key cause of worries, fights and sleepless nights.
Try these three tactics to save more and reduce your stress:
Accumulate money for less-than-monthly expenses, such as tires, insurance and holiday gifts.
Build an emergency fund of at least $1,000. Once you are debt-free, increase the fund to equal three to six months of living expenses.
With that foundation in the bank, put yourself on the path to financial independence by saving 15 percent of your take-home pay.
Nearly 25 percent of those surveyed said they hid purchases and lied about how much money they spent. Why? Most wanted to avoid a fight or lecture.
By establishing a spending plan together and spending with integrity, the perceived need for deceit should vanish.
Exclusion from decisions
For relationships to succeed, each person must have a voice in decision-making. Dividing financial tasks based on interest is one of the best ways to create cooperation. For example, maybe one person loves spreadsheets and could tackle the budget, and the other likes to plan ahead and could predict future spending needs.
However tasks are divided, both people need to participate, understand the choices and contribute to key decisions.
Choosing to work together will do wonders for bringing you closer to your partner.
matt.kelly.durango@gmail. Durango resident and personal finance coach Matt Kelly owns Momentum: Personal Finance. www.personalfinancecoaching.com.