By Matthew Gaude & Shawn McGuire
Have you lost count of how many times you’ve fought with your significant other about money? It probably comes as no surprise that one-third of married couples fight about finances at least once a month, (1) and disagreements about money are the second leading cause of divorce, just behind infidelity. (2) Even if arguments are rare in your home, your relationship has probably felt the tension that finances can cause. A study from Northwestern Mutual found that money was the leading cause of stress among Americans (3) and that stress often escalates when you add in a second party who might have different ideas about how to handle money.
With all that discouraging news, you may be wondering if it’s even possible for love and money to peacefully coexist.
The Trifecta Of Emotions, Opinions, And Personality
It’s no secret that finances tend to stir up plenty of emotions and cause stress in everyday life, so it makes sense that many couples try to keep the peace by avoiding money conversations completely. Then there’s the fact that everyone has their own opinion on how to manage money, and most of us also have a unique financial personality. Some of us are savers, some are spenders. Some of us may be conservative, while others are free spirits. These differences can cause friction and discord, which then affects all other aspects of the relationship.
But no matter what the statistics tell us, money doesn’t have to be a stress point in a relationship. Here are a few simple strategies that may help couples avoid financial friction.
Unfortunately, honesty regarding money isn’t a guarantee in a relationship, as 19% of adults in a live-in relationship admit to hiding a bank account from their partner. (4) It’s important for both partners to offer full disclosure of their finances and be open about expenses, regardless of whether you’re married or you live together, have joint accounts or separate bank accounts. You and your spouse should be aware of how you spend your money, especially when it comes to significant expenses, loans, or ongoing fees. By maintaining an open line of communication regarding spending habits and upcoming bills, you may be able to keep financial arguments at bay.
Watch Your Timing
Since conversations about money are often emotionally charged, choose a time to talk about your financial situation or make decisions when both of you are at your best. Don’t wait until the end of a long, stressful day or right before you have to walk out the door. It’s also important to be preemptive, having discussions to set boundaries and expectations to avoid future problems. In other words, don’t wait until one of you splurges on a new TV or you go over budget on a vacation to set limits on spending.
Cater To Your Strengths, But Work As A Team
Most often, one spouse acts as the Chief Financial Officer of the household, managing all bills, budgets, savings, investments, and insurance policies. However, it can be helpful for both partners to understand their financial situation. If time allows, sit down together once a month for a financial check-in to review credit card statements, account transactions, and other bills and check for any possible errors. Ongoing input from both partners will strengthen your relationship and create a true partnership.
Find The Right Fit
You don’t have to go far to find financial advice, but not every system or philosophy will work for your relationship. Glean ideas from experts, family members, or friends, but be flexible, allowing yourself to experiment and find a financial framework in which you both can thrive. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different methods of budgeting, saving, or debt payoff, and remember that as life changes, you may need to adapt your finances to your new circumstances.
Set aside a portion of pocket money that you and your spouse can each spend every month on something you love, whether it’s a massage, a round of golf, or a steak dinner. Along with saving for long-term goals, set small objectives you can reasonably accomplish each month and celebrate your success.
Bring In A Third Party
Sometimes the best way to ease money tensions is to work with an objective third party, whether that’s a financial professional, a marriage counselor, or both. A financial professional can work with you and your spouse to review your financial landscape, identify any gaps in your insurance coverage, assist you in establishing short-term and long-term goals, help you stay on track, and provide professional and knowledgeable advice.
Although the topic of finance can occasionally cause tension, money doesn’t have to become a constant source of concern in a relationship. Invest the time to address spending habits and savings goals, uphold transparency regarding purchases, and communicate effectively.
How We Can Help
At Live Oak Wealth Management, we care about your relationship. We want to help you by taking some of the financial burden off your back. If you know that your relationship and your finances would benefit from the objectivity and experience of a professional, we are here to help. Schedule an appointment online or contact us at 770-552-5968 or [email protected] and start down the road to financial harmony.
Matthew Gaude is an *investment advisor representative and the co-founder of Live Oak Wealth Management, a financial services firm in Roswell, Georgia. He serves the planning and investment needs of corporate employees, those approaching or in retirement, and 401(k) plan sponsors. Working first as a commodity broker and then as a Business Development Manager for a national broker-dealer in previous jobs, he has the insights and experience to help clients understand the complexities of the market and implement strategies to minimize risk. To learn more about Matthew, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.liveoakwm.com.
Shawn McGuire is a financial advisor and the co-founder of Live Oak Wealth Management, a financial services firm in Roswell, Georgia. He serves the planning and investment needs of corporate employees, those approaching or in retirement, and 401(k) plan sponsors. He has worked in financial services since 2002 in positions ranging from financial advisor to stock broker and portfolio manager. As a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, he is trained to help clients with virtually all their financial needs. To learn more about Shawn, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.liveoakwm.com.
Securities offered through American Portfolios Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through *American Portfolio Advisors, Inc., a SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Live Oak Wealth Management, LLC is independently owned and not affiliated with APFS or APA.
Any opinions expressed in this forum are not the opinion or view of American Portfolios Financial Services, Inc. (APFS) or American Portfolios Advisors, Inc. (APA) and have not been reviewed by the firm for completeness or accuracy. These opinions are subject to change at any time without notice. Any comments or postings are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer or a recommendation to buy or sell securities or other financial instruments. Readers should conduct their own review and exercise judgment prior to investing. Investments are not guaranteed, involve risk, and may result in a loss of principal. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investments are not suitable for all types of investors.