For most couples, being in a long-term relationship will mean arguments about money. Whether you are dating, engaged, or married, chances are that there will be times when you fight about finances with your partner. And those issues are often exacerbated for couples who share their money and live together.
So what happens when these fights become more than just a few occurrences? How can couples avoid fighting about money? The truth is that there isn’t one single solution to stop financial arguments. Still, a combination of tactics can help, as most money-related fights stem from factors like miscommunications. Keep reading for helpful solutions to end those arguments over finances.
Learn Effective Communication To Stop Money Fights
One of the first things you can do to stop fighting about money is better communication with your partner. When stating your concerns or comments about spending, do so in a neutral way rather than coming off as accusatory or condescending, which can definitely happen when discussing money. Also, make sure that you say everything on your mind so things like resentment don’t build up. By clearly and calmly stating your concerns, your issues can be heard and potentially worked on if needed.
For many people, listening is the hardest part of effective communication but is essential for finances. Make sure you hear what your partner is saying and acknowledge their perspective before providing them with yours. Simply being listened may be enough for another person to feel secure during a financial talk.
Lastly, to communicate about money effectively, you should understand each other’s communication styles. For example, one partner may be overly direct with all things money. At the same time, the other person in the relationship may struggle with talking about money issues at all—a huge difference in communication styles.
In other cases, both people may be passive-aggressive communicators with financial matters, which can leave fights and issues stagnant, hurting the relationship. Whatever communication styles you and your partner have, learn to accommodate each other in the critical financial conversations you have.
You can have conversations about money without escalating into fights with proper communication.
Honesty, Transparency, and Accountability About Spending Money
According to a study conducted by The National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), two in five Americans have committed financial infidelity—lied to their partner about their personal finances. Lying or being deceptive about money can lead to broken trust, arguments, and can even be a dealbreaker for many people. According to the same study, about 16% of couples with financial infidelity do not make it!
And so, being honest with your partner and holding yourself accountable when you spend money is critical to a healthy relationship. Honesty can also definitely help avoid money fights.
Combine Your Finances for a Better Relationship
A recent study conducted in the APA’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that combining your finances with a partner actually improves the longevity of a relationship. And so, if you haven’t integrated your finances with your partner yet, consider doing so.
Starting with a joint bank account (checking or a savings account) is pretty simple. With your partner, you can head to your local bank, credit union, or depository institution. There are many ways that pooling your finances can help prevent a fight about money. It can help two people look at their money differently, understand their partner’s spending habits, and create accountability.
Goal Setting and Budgeting With Your Partner
Being on the same page with money can be another way to reduce financial stress and prevent money fights. One way to get on the same page is to set financial goals together and use budgeting as a tool to reach those goals. Creating a budget for couples can be more work than an individual budget. Still, it is worth the work, as it can help you track your income and expenses, and help you reach your money goals. Here are some examples of money goals that many households and couples have:
Paying off Credit Card Debt and Other Consumer Debt Like Loans
Many couples can come into a relationship with their own debt, and married couples may have joint debt they are paying back. For many couples, the goal of wanting to eliminate or reduce debt is a big one, especially if they are struggling to pay other monthly bills because of it.
Whether it is student debt, online payday loans, or credit cards, paying off debt will improve your financial situation by increasing your usable income. By doing so, you can reduce the amount of financial stress that debt puts on a relationship.
Building Retirement Accounts
Planning for retirement is another goal that couples, especially married couples, think about when they consider financial planning. Most Americans start planning for retirement in their twenties and contribute to a 401k plan from their employer as a starting point. Retirement plans and savings can make a big difference in your future as a couple.
Having Solid Savings Accounts for Emergencies
This is one of the most common goals couples have with their money. Most money experts recommend that a household has at least three months of savings in their emergency fund. Whether you want to create individual saving accounts or a single one for each person, having savings will help prevent debt and increase financial security for both people in a relationship.
Saving for a Down Payment on a Large Purchase
A large purchase like a car or a home is another financial goal that many couples have. A purchase like a car can only require a few thousand dollars, if any, as a down payment. While looking to buy a home in the future, you will need around 20% down, which can be several thousands of dollars. A budget can help you start a savings plan for whatever purchase you plan to make as a couple.
Planning Major Milestones
Marriage, a graduate degree, travel, or family planning are just some of the goals that couples think about when in a serious relationship together. If you and your partner are thinking about these milestones in your future, you will have to figure out how you will pay for them. Creating a budget to help ensure both parties are on the same page with their financial goals can make it easier to save and may eliminate a potential fight about money.
These are just a handful of financial goals that couples have. Whether you have a joint income or not, having a financial plan can help both parties prioritize their spending, add transparency, and make it easier to talk about money. It can also make it easier to plan your life and next steps around what you can afford, while keeping your goals intact. For example, you may change your spending habits, downsize, or consider moving to one of the many cities with the best opportunities for couples.
And so, if you don’t have a budget or financial goals, talk to your partner or spouse, set some time aside, and start!
Learning Compromise To Stop Fighting
Many couples fight because compromising about money can be difficult. However, compromising is essential for things to work with any issue that you are having within a relationship, including money problems.
Compromising needs to balance the things you want and the things that your partner wants. For example, let’s say you want to save money for a pay period while your partner wants to go out. A good compromise could be splitting that money, putting some into savings, and using the rest for a night out.
Talk to a Professional About Your Money Problems and Maybe Your Relationship
If you and your partner are having trouble figuring out solutions to make your money work for you, a professional may be able to help. Financial planners, also known as financial advisors, help people create an extremely detailed plan with their money.
Along with individuals, they can work with couples sharing their finances. They can help you figure out the best way for you and your partner to save and spend money and even help with things like investing. Keep in mind that you will have to pay an annual fee of around a minimum of $2,000 and potential per hour fees. For some couples, this amount may be worth not having to deal with finances themselves.
Having a third party point out the best use of your money can help you and your partner or spouse avoid a potential fight about money or lessen the intensity of an argument since either are not managing the money yourselves.
Talk to a Couple’s Counselor
Although a couple’s counselor isn’t going to help you plan your finances, they can help you learn about communication styles, confront your deepest fears regarding money in your relationship, provide tools for better communication, and help you better understand your partner. Individual counseling for each partner can also be helpful in better communication.
These tools may not get rid of money problems, but they can help you reflect on feelings like frustration without taking it out on your partner. It may also decrease the intensity of your money fights, which can be a massive issue for many couples. Or help with avoiding fights altogether.
The Bottom Line
Most couples fight about money. And whether you have been married for years to your spouse or are in a relatively new relationship, constant fighting can lead to a strained relationship. The good news is that there are several things couples can do to stop fighting about money.
Communicating effectively, setting goals for your future together, being honest about spending, combining finances, and seeking professional help are all things you can pursue with your partner. With these tools in place, you will likely see fewer money fights and a better relationship with your partner.