How to Stop Fighting About Money
Couples fight about money very often.
Since money is such a hot topic, it is not surprising that so many couples find themselves arguing and squabbling over money issues. Whether it’s about small things (you bought another coffee?!) or about big things (we need a bigger house), discussing money can quickly turn into an all-out fight complete with blame (our money problems are all your fault), criticism (you always spend too much) and efforts to control (you can only spend $5 a week).
With so many opportunities for contention, it is not surprising that so many couples end up fighting so much about money, and money issues are a common source of conflict between couples.
Being on the same page regarding finances is crucial if you want to have a good relationship or succeed financially in life. These are significant topics that affect many other issues, and it is so important to be on the same page.
Talk About Money
You need to talk about money with your partner, but you shouldn’t always talk about money. Constantly talking about money is not a great idea to help a relationship thrive, as obsessiveness can also be a terrible thing for your relationship.
Ideally, you should set up a system for yourself that works for both of you and only needs minor tweaking.
Both parties don’t need to be dealing with the finances, but both parties need to agree to the system and help set it up.
My husband and I have set up a budget with some fixed categories and some variable categories. The variable categories are a percentage of our paycheck. We have decided together what those categories are and how much to allocate to each. However, my husband is the one who sees how much the paycheck is, plugs it into our spreadsheet, and then transfers the money to the appropriate accounts. I don’t do that. This system works for our marriage. We both don’t need to be transferring money or taking money out of the ATM. However, we both need to know where our money is going and where we would like to spend our money.
Anytime a large purchase needs to be made, or before an event that will cost money (holiday, summer vacation, etc.) comes up, we discuss what we would like to happen with our money.
Additionally, we have a money date every so often to discuss our money and decide what is working for us and what is not. These monthly check-ins allow us to be on the same page regarding our finances and ensure that we both have an equal say and access to our finances.
Create a Control Notebook
Regardless of whether one works outside the home or not, both spouses need to have equal access to financial accounts and details. That doesn’t mean that both of you need to be always dealing with all the accounts. It is OK to divide the labor the way you see fit. You can (and should) have a dedicated notebook or file folder with all the details you need to know if one spouse is unable to answer questions or deal with it.
This knowledge is especially crucial when one partner is the breadwinner and the other a stay at home parent (more specifically stay at home moms). Even in the most well-meaning situations, a woman can find herself in a challenging situation when tragedy strikes.
If you are in a situation where you do not have access to your financial accounts because a spouse or other family member is hiding that information from you, you may be a victim of financial abuse. Here are some resources and hotlinks that can help you.
Have Money “Dates”
To have a clear vision of where you want your money to go, you need to set aside a good time to talk to your spouse about money.
Please don’t talk about money when you are in the thick of it. Don’t start talking about bills when you are unpacking groceries or at the end of a long day. It will not end well. Pick a quiet time when you both can sit and discuss. You can set a “money date” where you make a date with each other and talk about money. Clear your calendar. Prepare things you want to discuss. Make some yummy snacks to enjoy (or a yummy soup or dinner).
First, discuss the broad picture. Are you on the same page about what your financial goals are?
Are you both working towards the same goals? Are you on the same page about how to get there? You don’t need to discuss the details yet- make sure you have your overreaching goals set out. Once you have a goal and project you are both working, you will be more likely to agree on the small details.
If you both want to work towards early retirement- you will be more likely to agree to cut down on significant expenses to make that work.
If you both want to build wealth- you are more likely to agree on either one or both of you working extra hours to make that happen.
If you both decided that raising a family is the priority right now- you are more likely to agree to cut on expenses and work on your schedules to make that happen.
Agreeing on the big ideas in your marriage (especially when it comes to finances) makes you into a team, and you can both agree on the small details as well.
Once you have agreed on the big ideas and the plan of how to get there, it’s time to deal with all the details.
Make a specific budget, figure out how to close the gap between what you want and what you have.
Decided on what you need and how you want to get it.
Once you do that, you can allow each other to make your own daily decisions based on the framework you have made. Controlling behaviors and nitpicking is never a recipe for success.
Working towards a goal together will not only let your financial plan be a success, but it will make your marriage a success. It will make you into a team working together rather than individuals trying to make their path.
It is important to frequently check-in and re-evaluate how your budget is working, whether it is working, what needs to be tweaked, and what can stay the same. We don’t spend a lot of time dealing with the daily management of our budget or finances. Once we have a template that works, we stick to it. But it is important to have check-ins to make sure that both spouses are OK with what is happening. You can set a specific time when it works to have a conversation.
Make sure it’s a good time for both of you, that no one else is around and that you both can concentrate on the task at hand. It does not need to be a long meeting, but you can make it a fun time when you both can check in with each other and make sure your life goals are still in sync.
Having a date night with a spouse is extremely important for your marriage, but it is also important to carefully set dates to discuss important things such as your finances. When you both agree and work together on where your money is going, you can have a relationship that is free of fighting about money!