Don't Let Money Destroy Your Marriage
Tips for couples on how to keep it financially together.
It’s a common belief that opposites attract. An introvert may find love in a free-spirited soul while a night owl may fixate on an early bird. But does this theory work effectively when addressing household finances with a spouse? Will and Jada-Pinkett Smith may or may not be the people to consult on this, but there are formulas that work for couples.
“Dynamics have changed dramatically over the years as domestic partnerships involving combined earnings have become the norm,” says Louis Scatigna, author of The Financial Physician: How to Cure Your Money Problems and Boost Your Financial Health. “Working together will increase your ability to gain wealth, your chances of eliminating unnecessary expenses and can be a very motivating and unifying experience.” Here are his tips on how to make sure both parties in a marriage are taking active roles in their family’s money joys and woes.
Talk it out. Discuss expenses, debts and purchases and set goals, he says, advising that couples have a once-a-month partner finance meeting at a fixed date that coincides with when payments are due and obligations need to be addressed.
Never assume. Individuals in relationships sometimes think that if they are working towards an objective that his or her spouse is doing the same. People change and so do their needs. Therefore, it may not be clear what each party in a relationship wants for his or herself or for their union. It’s important to ask questions.
Pay bills together. Sit together when there are no distractions and review statements. Scatigna recommends that couples think of ways to cut costs and make bills and expenses more manageable. He also suggests that couples keep a list in the kitchen or office area so that each party can add agenda items and ideas leading up to the meeting date. This will add understanding to the financial partnership.
Be accountable. When acting alone, it is easy to go astray or make excuses. But when spouses and partners work as teams they are less likely to deviate from the plan and are more likely to pick up the slack and encourage as needed.
“Be willing to listen and take suggestions,” Scatigna says. “Speak with any advisors together. Become a team that is dedicated to working together to build wealth.”