Question: I’m getting married this summer, and I hear that money causes lots of problems with couples. Is there anything we can do to avoid financial arguments?
Answer: If only everyone would ask this question when entering a new relationship. You’ll be dealt many challenges in your life and you don’t want to get bogged down in money issues.
Marriages are made in heaven (and on earth). It’s the earth part and the reality of joining the values and styles of two persons that challenges newlyweds.
Money differences cause one of the most difficult challenges to any relationship. Start your new relationship by learning to talk about money in a way that values your individual needs and also honors what is important to your spouse. Practicing the skill of communication is a lifelong commitment. Get started right away – it’ll be worth it!
As long as you can dream together and develop creative, realistic plans to move into the future, you will grow together, materially and spiritually.
Learn to make shared saving and spending decisions. Most people assume that their partner wants the same thing that they want, but many times that’s not the case. Don’t worry, it’s OK. Communication is the key to incorporating different values and priorities into your financial plans.
Discuss the following with your spouse:
During the next year, what do we want to accomplish with our money? How can we establish a plan for goals like buying a home and having children? How can we also have money for fun things to do, such as a weekend trip or attending a concert?
Life together means planning ours, yours and mine. Some people naturally plan by first considering individual needs and then considering joint needs. Other people start with joint needs and then consider their personal needs. Don’t try to change the other person, instead:
– Develop communication skills with a focus on both individual needs and joint plans.
– Make sure that you and your spouse have money that is yours alone to spend. Each of you should have some money you can spend without consulting each other.
– Establish ground rules of how to make decisions. Arguments and hard feelings follow if one person spends joint money without consulting the other.
Discuss: How much money do we want to set aside for our own individual spending? What could we do together this weekend? What would you like to do alone?
Decide who will be the systems keeper – which of you is better at taking care of bill paying, record keeping and other tasks related to money management. If both of you are proficient at the tasks, take turns. If neither of you would do a good job, find help to establish a good system and then trade off doing it. There is no reason to pay late fees, high interest charges and get a black mark on your credit because no one wants to take care of these things.
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Judy McKenna, Ph.D., CFP, Family Economics Specialist, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, email@example.com