For many couples the talk of finances may seem taboo. A lot of people try to avoid conversations that cause tension in their relationship just to make things easier. Money should never be a topic to avoid in a relationship. It is important that both parties are well informed and work together to have a successful relationship. We are here to help with five money topics every couple should discuss.
“Once a mature conversation is had, there are no unwritten expectations and both parties can be on the same page.”
Most couples once they have reached a long-term milestone will traditionally create a joint bank account. This joint account whisks away many problems, and sometimes makes managing bills and incoming paychecks easier. Although this may be the case for some, there are some circumstantial drawbacks to this. A big draw back would be if the two parties have different ways of handling their money. If someone has an issue with overspending, while the other is a penny pincher, this joint account may create a hassle. Having a joint bank account can teach a couple significant compromise and how to communicate. Some individuals enjoy the independence of having their own account and cannot be bothered with a conversation about their spending habits. Either way, a joint bank account is something that should be discussed. Once a mature conversation is had, there are no unwritten expectations and both parties can be on the same page.
Both partners in a relationship should be transparent about their outstanding debt. If a couple has just graduated from college, there is no doubt that they have a long time until that debt is paid off. Another circumstance may be that one partner is financially well off and the other is struggling from pay check to pay check. Transparency about financial situations will create less arguments and help your partner better understand your situation. This can help avoid any unwanted surprises or potential arguments in the future. One of the worst feelings in the world is thinking your relationship is in financially good standing, then going to buy a house and find out that your spouse’s credit is a lot worse than they led on. Being open and honest on all aspects of your relationship is key. Whether it be a car loan, student loans or credit card debt; it all needs to be laid out on the table. You partner may even be able to help you organize your financials to keep you on track, they want to see you succeed, not drown in dollar signs.
“You may want to seek out the help of a financial coach. By taking this time to get things in order, it can really help you in the long run.”
Responsibility of maintaining a household can be overwhelming for one person to take on. Many couples assign each partner certain tasks, like paying bills. It is important to know who is paying what bill to ensure that all the bills are being covered and on time. Organization and timeliness is important when paying the bills, if bills are late that can create a whole new set of problems for couples. Bills may be assigned by responsibility or income levels of each individual. Some couples may split it as one member pays the water, gas and cable bills. While the other pays the electric and mortgage bills. However, if that does not work well for some couples, splitting all the bills in half may be the safest option. If one party is not able to cover the bills they agreed to, it is very important for them to discuss it with their spouse. Honesty is incredibly critical when it comes to finances, your partner should help you get through these problems, not antagonize you for them. It is hard to handle life struggles and work it out together if you do not know about them.
This is one of the money topics talked about the least when you are young. Many couples imagine retirement together once things get serious. Your retirement savings should start as soon as possible. You do not have to put away a lot of money each month, but putting some away for the future each month adds up after 50+ years. It is important to not only imagine what it will be like, but to also take proper step to ensure retirement will actually become a reality. Asking what age your spouse wants to retire and starting to save can make a difference. This may seem simple, but many couples do not discuss this and it may blow up later in life. Again, it is important to set expectations early. If retirement is something you both struggle to understand, you may want to seek out the help of a financial coach. By taking this time to get things in order, it can really help you in the long run.
Financial issues are responsible for a large percentage of divorce these days. A good way to prevent these struggles is to create a monthly or even weekly budget and discuss it on a regular basis. Each partner often brings their own strengths into the relationship and the one who is a better planner may want to be in charge of creating the budget. This is important because you do not want to be spending more than you are making, there are moments to splurge but not regularly. Setting a monthly budget on food, events, clothes, and miscellaneous items will create financial stability.
We use cash sometimes to act as if we are not using our credit card and it is ‘saving money.’ A helpful tip is to take out a certain amount of cash every month and divide it up per week into an envelope. When that envelope runs empty, you have reached your limit and cannot take out anymore cash. Certainly, there are instances for emergencies, but this tactic will help you limit the amount of cash you spend. These tough budgeting conversations should be discussed regularly so both parties are on the same page.
There are enough struggles with maintaining a relationship, make it easier for both of you by being open and honest about your finances. Remember that you are supposed to work together as a team, not individually. With joint bills, comes joint responsibility.
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