Fighting about finances is something most couples do at some point or another. If money is something that drives a constant wedge between you and your partner, this is the year to change that. Make a fresh financial start and put a stop to fights about the bottom line. To help put you on the right track, we have some simple but effective tips to try.
Expert financial advice
To learn more, we turned to Cathi Brese Doebler, author of Ditch the Joneses, Discover Your Family: The definitive guide on how to thrive on less than two incomes. "One of the top reasons for fights in a marriage is disagreements about finances," she says. She shares her top 10 small changes to help couples enhance their finances in 2012 and avoid all those frustrating fights about money.
The New Year means a new start
To start with, talk about the biggest financial issues you've faced in the past. "Consider what may have caused stress for you last year and discuss ways to prevent that from happening this year," Doebler says. Once you do that, follow these 10 tips:
- Work as a team: Get an agreement from your spouse to work together with you on financial changes. Avoiding fights about money will have to be a team effort going forward.
- Monitor spending: Track your spending with a journal, from large purchases down to coffee. This will give you a better idea of where you're wasting money.
- Create a spending profile: Use your journal and brainstorm together to create a detailed account of your spending. Make a list of all of the items.
- Flag what's important: Go through the list and check off all of the items that are truly necessities.
- Flag what's not: Go through all of the remaining items that are not necessities; these are called "wants."
- Create a no-buy list: Decide which of the "wants" you can stop buying (that third latte of the day, perhaps). Determining which items you "want" versus which items are necessities will help you to better manage your spending and come to an agreement about where to allot family finances.
- Get on the same page: Make an agreement with your spouse about changes you will make to your budget. The more in sync you are, the easier it will be to stick to your new budget.
- Build a budget: Based on your wants and needs, create a budget that will help you save while allowing you to have enough for what you need to spend money on.
- Monitor your finances: Meet with your spouse once a week to see how you are doing with the changes you've agreed to.
- Celebrate: Celebrate your successes each month in an inexpensive but fun way. Use this celebration time to recommit to sticking to your budget for the next month.
Here's to a New Year with no fights about money!
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