Young couples face many sources of stress in their lives today. Money is one of the top causes of stress and relationship issues between couples. There are, however, a number of ways to circumvent the levels of stress related to personal finances. Couples should plan time to have uninterrupted conversations around a number of topics.
Learn About Each Other’s Past and Emotions About Money
A couple should talk to each other about their money history. Each person has grown up with a history of how they were taught about money, how their family talked (or didn’t talk) about household finances, as well as what they learned and how they applied this to their own lives.
In addition, couples should talk about how money makes them feel. What emotions does the spending or saving of money bring up? How much money do each consider to be a small purchase, a medium purchase and a big/expensive purchase? This can avoid surprises when one feels they make a small purchase and the other feels it is extravagant.
Talk About Financial Goals For The Future
Moving from past to future, a couple should spend time discussing what their financial goals are for the future and how they plan to get to those goals. Desired trips, purchasing a house vs renting, working two jobs vs one, desired retirement income, and college funding may be among the topics to cover.
While talking about the future, take time to consider sudden changes in household finances. If both are working, what would happen if one suddenly dies or needs long-term care? If family is in need of finances, how would that be handled? How will money be introduced to children who might need funding as an adult? Finally, what will the couple want to do with transferring their wealth to others after they both die?
Who Will Pay What
From a short-term, daily money management perspective, a couple should discuss who will be paying the bills. Who will be handling payment for regular expenses and what account will be used? Will assets be combined or will each maintain separate accounts? How will large expenses be funded, such as a replacement vehicle? How will school loans or other debt be handled?
Discuss The Failure Option
Finally, couples should consider the possibility that even with their best efforts, they might not have the knowledge and skills to stay out of financial trouble. They should discuss who they would go to in order to get help, and when they would approach those resources.
Each person in the relationship can also do things on their own to keep from getting into a stressful relationship regarding finances.
Don’t Have An Affair With Your Money
Cheating on the finances by making purchases that are hidden from the other, or even having accounts the other does not know about can be as harmful to the relationship as having an affair. In fact, according to creditcards.com almost one-third of people thought that hiding money or expenses from the other was even WORSE than an affair.
Make Sure The Basics Are Covered
All financial counselors and advisors will strongly recommend an emergency fund that holds enough money to be able to call on for three to six months’ worth of expenses. By having that cushion, the stress of the event causing the couple to draw upon that reserve is not compounded by the stress of how to pay for those expenses.
Don’t Forget The Children
Couples should be very consistent and in agreement with how to discuss household finances and money with children. How much each person knew about their parent’s finances may differ. This should be discussed and come to agreement of what information about household finances will be shared with children and at what level as the children get older.
They should also be in agreement on money given to children. Many people believe that children should earn allowances. Others may believe it is a donation to the children for them to learn money management skills. How much to give them, how often, and what the children are expected to pay for themselves is important to agree on.
Parents should be of one voice when it comes to how financial gifts to the children will be handled. Will a portion be required to be set aside for charity or for savings? Or will that money be totally in the control of the child?
Make Regular Dates To Talk About Money
Finally, remember that these discussions and actions are not a one-time set of conversations. Just as the relationship between a couple will change in the different phases of life, these conversations should be reconsidered to make sure both are still on the same page, or if circumstances have changed resulting in a need to revisit the topics. By keeping the communication channels open between a couple, at least one aspect of the relationship can be stress free.
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