When you’re living together as a couple, whether you’re married or not, you will probably have financial commitments which are joint. It’s hard for any couple to keep their money completely separate in these circumstances, and for many their money is completely linked; they may have both sets of wages paid into one joint account, for instance.
When it runs smoothly, dealing with finances as a couple can be brilliant, but when things go wrong, it can cause a rift that takes a long time to heal, if at all. Many couples have had problems where one has hidden debts or high spending from the other one, and for some this amounts to ‘financial infidelity’ – the lies and the fact that something has been kept from them is often enough to doom the relationship altogether. In fact, it’s one of the top reasons why couples are splitting up today.
So what can you do to avoid the same fate? Whether you’ve been financially linked to your partner for a while or if you’re just starting out together, it’s worth taking these points on board.
Talk to Each Other
Lack of communication is the basic cause of pretty much every argument ever. Talking to each other about what you earn, what you like to spend, what your goals are for the future and what you consider to be unreasonable behaviour is a fundamental and very important thing to do. Only by understanding where your partner stands on these issues can you work out a way of living which works for you both. Try to sit down together once a month and talk about your financial goals. One of you may need to spend more money than usual on something in that particular month, and it’s especially important to convey this to your partner if you have a joint account.
Make Plans Together
Rather than working against each other, chat about upcoming and potential plans together. If one of you spends more than the other and this causes some resentment, why not set up a couple’s fund where you save a little into it each month. This shows that discretionary money is not always being spent mostly on one of you – the spare cash that you have is thoughtfully put away to eventually benefit both of you as a unit.
Keep Earnings and Spending Fair
If one of you earns way more than the other yet spends the least, this can become a bone of contention. If you have completely joint finances, it may be hard to just spend what you’ve put in. Talk to your partner and work out a fair arrangement which means that one of you is not left frustrated when they try to take out money and can’t. If you can level the playing field by ensuring that work is shared out fairly as well as spending, this could really help with this type of argument.
Leave Mistakes in the Past
If you’ve had arguments over money in the past, then it can be all too easy to bring the same issues back up when you’re having further arguments. In the interests of sorting out your money problems once and for all, try to agree to leave the past behind. Starting afresh with the way you deal with your money together can mean that you have better success with your new plans. Of course, if your partner has a habit of doing really bad things with money repeatedly, then you will need to address this further.
Play to Your Strengths but Don’t Exclude
Each of you will probably have your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to your finances. One of you could be really good at remembering to pay the bills on time, whereas the other could be good at putting a little away each month as savings. Whatever you’re good at, don’t take this job on completely alone. The only way your partner will improve and understand your joint finances as a whole is to be involved with what you do. Even if you just let your partner know when you’re sorting out a particular aspect of your money, it will keep them in the loop and prevent misunderstandings from occurring.