The general consensus among couples is that money causes more arguments in the household than any other topic. In fact, studies show that couples who disagree about money at least once a week are 30 percent more likely to break up or divorce.
Moreover, according to Jackie Black, Ph.D., BCC, author of “Couples and Money: Cracking the Code to Ending the #1 Conflict in Marriage,” the way you handle the mercurial topic of money represents how you will handle all other issues throughout your relationship. Set up a solid framework by having conversations on the following five topics related to finances.
- Earning: Discuss who will earn the money in the relationship, or if wages are earned via a “job” or a “career” (a critical distinction). Along with this, talk about how any potential children will be cared for if you are both working.
- Spending/saving: These two go hand in hand. What are your priorities? Are you saving money for private school? Do you have the mutual desire to travel the world? Do you want a nest egg to cover the possibility of home or health emergencies? It is important to be on the same page, do remember compromise is a vital aspect of the talk. Furthermore, do either of you prefer that you clear it with one another before spending a predetermined amount of money? This decision could be critical in avoiding fights.
- Accounting: Assign one of you to keep track of the bank accounts — someone needs to constantly be aware of how much is coming in and going out — and to create the budget. Talk together about how to divide financial roles and responsibilities.
- Investing: This is not just a simple answer of whether or not you want to put money in the market. It is an entire discussion about your risk willingness and your views on modes of investment, just to start.
- Building wealth: This topic could conceivably be an extension of the conversation from No. 4. “You’ll want to talk about how to make your money grow,” said family expert and former Editor at Parents magazine Cheryl Lock. “How much will you need, collectively, to retire comfortably or put kids through college, and what will your mindset be in terms of how you’ll spend your wealth?”
Dr. Black says that almost every single family decision somehow revolves around money, and therefore falls under one of these topics. That said, plan on having talks like these once a month or so. Not every conversation needs to be long and detailed, but it is important to stay abreast of any shifts in one another’s values.
Financial discussions aren’t always fun, but they’re an important part of life.