It may surprise you to learn that one of the biggest causes of marriage and relationship breakdowns is not because men keep leaving the toilet seat up, and it isn’t even the endless battles over the television remote.
One of the biggest causes of stress and upset in a relationship is money, more accurately money troubles.
Whilst it’s perfectly natural to worry about money, especially when it is short supply, there are a number of ways that you can deal with the financial issues together; And that’s the key! You must deal with your finances together.
Relationships can suffer greatly when both parties are living separate financial lives. If you are in a committed relationship there is really no benefit to operating as two units when it comes to money. If you get as far as buying a home and starting a family together your finances are going to be forever linked, so why not start early and get off on a solid footing.
Here are some tips to help you start working together.
Have Joint Accounts
It is now more important than ever to work as a financial unit and the easiest way to lay the foundations is to have joint bank accounts. This way both of you will know exactly how much money is coming in and going out of the household, you will both have access to information relating to direct payments, and you will also be more likely to avoid situations where you end up with an overdrawn account because if you don’t spot a problem, hopefully your partner will.
If for some reason you do need separate accounts be sure to sit down with each other once a week. You can “compare accounts”, and keep on top of where you stand financially.
Have A Joint War Fund
Now you may think this is very “money 101”, and in one sense it is. However, this tip alone could prevent dozens if not hundreds of arguments over money. Why?
Most arguments over money start when there isn’t enough money to deal with a problem. When a situation arises where money is needed but is not available, couples tend to blame each other for the problem. The pressure of not having the money can lead to all sorts of rows about who is at fault for the lack of funds.
With an emergency fund at hand when things go wrong you won’t have to deal with the sudden surge of fear and pressure, because you know you can simply take money out of the fund to deal with the problem at hand.
The best way to build a decent emergency fund is to take a percentage of your pay check each week and immediately put it into a savings account. Set up a joint account so that both of you have access, and commit to routinely putting money away.
If you can, get yourselves a savings account with the highest interest rate possible so that your fund will grow a little on it’s own. It’s amazing how that little bit of financial security can take the heat and stress out of most monetary discussions.
Be Open At All Times
This is where most problems can be avoided. I’m sure you have heard the horror stories about the devoted wife who had no idea her husband was in any debt until she read his suicide note, only to learn he had $40,000 worth of debt.
Unfortunately, this kind of thing happens everyday, it’s because some couples do not talk about money.
If you are currently dealing with your financial situations separately, and don’t know how to broach the subject with your partner, here are some tips to get you started.
Be open from the beginning: It’s quite possible that when you get into a relationship you may bring some debt with you. If that’s the case don’t hide it. Bring it to your partner’s attention and deal with it head on.
If your partner is the kind of person you are going to build a relationship with, they should have no problem with your history and will help you plan a way out of it. If they leave you simply because you have bad credit then it’s safe to say they weren’t the person for you!
Don’t make it formal: Whilst discussing finances is very important it doesn’t have to become a chore. It is quite acceptable to talk money over dinner, or with a glass of wine while watching a DVD.
The more relaxed you can be with each other when discussing money the more inclined you will be to keep doing it.
Treat yourselves: As important as saving and financial organisation is, it’s also important that you have fun. Build in some financial planning treats so you can enjoy the fruits of your labour. Agree on something you both like to do, and put some money aside to do it once or twice a month.
Be fair to one another: From time to time one of you will make mistakes. Whether it’s taking money out of an account that was meant to pay a bill, or whether it’s a little unplanned spending. You have to remember you’re both human and people sometimes get things wrong. There’s no point screaming and shouting about it. It won’t solve anything and it strains the relationship.
Being overly aggressive with your partner when they make a mistake is likely to push them away, and could result in them hiding things financially.
Be calm, forgiving and deal with getting back on track together.
Today, more than ever couples must work together to ensure financial security. Times are still tough for many people out there. People are finding it hard to find work, mortgage rates are unsettled, and the cost of living appears to be rising worldwide.
Couples that work well together financially are going to be the ones that come out of things stronger, and more financially secure.