Talking to your spouse about money may not be at the top of your To-Do List, but it's important for your marriage. Not talking leads to fights, busted budgets and underfunded savings accounts.
Financial problems are a clear red-flag that divorce is in the future, according to a study by Jeffery Dew at Utah State University, who found that couples that fought about money more than once a week were 30 percent more likely to get divorced. Furthermore, the study found that while wives reported arguments over money and sex as the biggest reasons for divorcing, husbands listed financial disagreements as the sole reason for divorce.
Learn how to talk about your money with your spouse before it becomes a problem by following these useful tips.
1. Make a Money Date- Talking about money is serious, but it doesn't have to be difficult. Together you and your spouse need to set a time for discussing financial issues such as the budget, savings, and retirement. Dedicate all of your attention towards this meeting where neither one of you is distracted by phones ringing or children crying. Make a date out of the occasion by going to a local cafe with free Internet service. Bring your laptop along and use this quiet time outside of the house to focus on your financial future. Repeat these periodic meetings to ensure that both of you are meeting your goals.
2. Write Letters- Learn each other's financial goals by writing a letter to each other outlining your financial plans. Talk in the letter about your financial past, including how your family handled money, and if you think they got it right or wrong. This gives you insight into each others "money mindset." Discuss who should have control over the money, and if you want a joint or single bank account. Discuss how wealthy you hope to be and what you would sacrifice to get there. List your retirement dreams.
3. Ask Questions- During your next money date, ask your partner questions about their letter. Is your spouse happy renting, or does he or she want to purchase a house one day? What does your spouse want to do during retirement? Are you going to pay for your children's college education? Remember that nobody is right or wrong here, but you both need to be honest.
4. Think "We" -- Create a realistic budget together based on the future you both want. Write the plan using words like 'we' and 'us' instead of 'me' and 'you'. A marriage is a partnership, not a dictatorship.
5. Listen to Each Other- If your partner feels uncomfortable putting $200 dollars a month in savings, ask why. Is it because the spouse wants to use that money to pay off debt or student loans? Because they want to eat out more and stay home less? Listen to what your partner says and find out if there is a reasonable compromise. Both partners have to be on the same page for a budget to work.
6. Talk Through Mistakes- Your spouse may overspend on their portion of the budget. Don't assign blame when this happens. Instead, find ways to prevent it from happening again. For example, did your spouse overspend because car repairs were costlier than expected? Add more money to the "repairs fund" to prevent future problems. (This budgeting worksheet can help). Arguing with your partner without understanding what went wrong is a recipe for disaster.