While money may be the root of all evil, it is also the root of many disagreements between couples. Fidelity Investments analyzed the finances of more than 1,600 couples who are married or in long-term committed relationships and living with their partner.
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Sixty-seven percent of couples who are concerned about debt say they argue about money. Forty-six percent of those same couples agree that money is their biggest relationship challenge. Are you struggling to find financial harmony with your partner? Leslie Thompson, founding principal at Spectrum Management Group has these three tips for couples:
Start the financial discussion
Thompson says the biggest family disagreements often center on how money should be spent and managed. Each person should lay out what is important to him or her and the reason why.
“For instance, you could have one person that really wants to focus on saving for retirement,” she says.
“They may have a specific goal of reaching ‘x’ amount of portfolio assets or being able to retire at a certain age. The other person may be more focused on immediate satisfaction such as taking vacations or enjoying life while they are young. It’s not to say that you would never go on vacation or buy something special. It’s how within your means you are able to set priorities to accomplish those goals.”
How to balance competing goals
After discussing individual financial goals, Thompson says couples now need to get on the same page. While that can be challenging, she says both parties need to come to an agreement on how they can accomplish their goals in a reasonable way. This includes agreeing on a budget. Whether it’s saving for retirement or vacations, she suggests creating separate savings accounts for each goal. This way each person is contributing to the "buckets" that have been agreed to.
“It’s very important that both people have that buy-in otherwise it is unlikely the objectives they each want to accomplish will occur,” she says. “The person that is more savings focused would likely be the person that is the most disappointed. It is much easier to spend than it is to save. Find concrete ways that you are able to accomplish both goals so each person feels like they are winning.”
Revisit your priorities often
Thompson suggests sitting down with your partner once a month to make sure both parties are on track to meet the agreed upon goals. Couples should review everything from spending to the family budget. When speaking to your partner, she says it’s important to approach him or her in a non-confrontational way.
“Couples definitely need to have this talk,” Thompson says.
“You need to do it in a way you are not defensive and you are really listening to the other person’s concerns. Develop concrete strategies that allow you both to benefit from the conversation and see a path toward achieving your goals.”
Linda Bell joined FOX Business Network (FBN) in 2014 as an assignment editor. She is an award-winning writer of business and financial content. You can follow her on Twitter @lindanbell