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Couples must communicate to keep marriage, finances healthy

It's not a surprise that disagreements over finances is one of the main reasons couples find themselves seeking to dissolve their marriage. Financial advice is always readily available, but married couples are still fighting over money. Why?

For a variety of reasons, couples appear to not want to hear financial advice, and what advice they do take in is filtered; there is important advice that they often ignore.

When a couple first gets married, they must decide whether to keep their finances separate, make them joint, or some combination. Having your own money to spend can lessen arguments about money. If you choose to have joint accounts, remember to keep the communication lines open, and discuss everything you spend – even the smaller amounts.

Tracking your spending is not a way to point fingers at one another as to who is spending what. Tracking your spending is not having someone look over your shoulder every time you buy something. Tracking your spending is critical to being financially secure. Unless you know where your moon is going, it is impossible to set up a budget and set financial goals you are both comfortable with.

Talking about money isn't easy because money means different things to different people. One may view money as security while the other partner may see it as power. If the topic of debt, bills, savings and goals makes either of you uncomfortable or defensive, seek the help of a financial counselor or planner. It's important that both of you know where you stand financially and have common financial goals.

Couples living month to month often rationalize that they just don't have enough money to save. Make the decision to save at least 10 percent of your income. After saving enough cash as an emergency fund, invest in a retirement account. The earlier you start saving money for your retirement, the easier it will be to have a retirement lifestyle that you both want. 

Make a plan to pay off existing debt. Drawing a line in the sand and saying that your spouse's debt isn't your problem won't work even if the debt existed before you were married. Your credit can be negatively affected as well as your bottom line as a couple.

Couples often don't want to wait to have a new television, car or other gadgets. They rationalize that people just don't live without credit cards and debt. Although it may be true that many are heavily in debt, that doesn't mean it is a healthy way to handle your finances.

As a couple, it's important that you don't keep financial secrets. Not being honest about the cost of a large financial purchase or keeping debts hidden is considered financial infidelity by a lot of people. Such secrets can destroy your marriage.

So keep the lines of communication open, and discuss your finances, including the good, the bad and the ugly. In the long run, your bank account will be fuller, you'll both be saner and your marriage will be healthier.

Published Oct 14 2010, 01:49 PM by moneycoach
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