3 Financial Tips that Could Save Your Marriage
By Miguel Casellas-Gil
Numerous studies point to money as one of the leading causes of divorce. From different spending habits and financial goals to one spouse earning considerably more income than the other, money can be a polarizing issue in a marriage, straining it to the breaking point.
Money problems within a marriage can spiral out of control when one spouse or both establish detrimental financial habits, such as overspending, increasing debt, and poor priorities. Things can also worsen when these spending behaviors occur without the partner’s knowledge. According to financial advisors, communication is a key component to a couple keeping their financial house – and perhaps their marriage in order. And ideally, the couple should have honest and thorough money conversations on a consistent basis.
“Successful relationships require open communication and trust, but there are some conversations that are harder to have than others,” says Al Zdenek, author of the book, “Master Your Cash Flow: The Key to Grow and Retain Wealth” and of the upcoming book, “Master Your Cash Flow: The Key to Grow a Valuable Business.”
“One of the most difficult ones is about money,” Zdenek elaborated. “It’s serious and can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be difficult or scary.”
In order to help ease couples into the uncomfortable money conversation, Zdenek offers three tips on how to make healthy, organized discussion about money a consistent part of their marriage.
- Planning the Talk
This is the first step, and it’s an important one. “Find a time when you can both talk without distractions – no phones, TV, or kids,” Zdenek says. This doesn’t mean, just put the phone on silent while it sits on the table next to you. Really try to give the “money talk” your undivided attention. “It’s also a good idea to have these meetings monthly, or at least quarterly, to ensure you’re on the same page.”
- Discussing the Hard Numbers
You both should be prepared to discuss your budget as well as plans for savings and retirement. In a 2017 MagnifyMoney survey titled, “Divorce and Debt,” 70 percent of respondents who said their divorce was due to money issues also said they didn’t stick to a budget during the marriage. “Bring notes about how your family has handled money in the past and how you would follow or change those steps,” Zdenek advises. “Is it best to have joint bank accounts or single? Now is also the time to talk about financial goals and dreams, and to see how, together, you can make them come true.”
- Remember, It’s “We,” not “I”
It’s no longer just about you since you’re building your lives together. “It should also be noted that empathy will help with these conversations,” Zdenek says. “Try to understand where your partner is coming from, especially if you have different spending habits. It’s also important to listen to qualms your partner may have.”
Creating a strict budget down to the penny won’t keep a couple together. If you want to keep the marriage secure, it is imperative that you really listen to you partner about their financial needs, goals and weaknesses.
“It’s important to remember that old saying, ‘No one is perfect,’” Zdenek says. “Both of you are going to make financial errors. Be forgiving and understanding, and then try to figure ways to prevent it from happening again.”