Money issues: Finding common ground in your relationship
Are you and your spouse or partner often arguing about money? When one partner is a spender and the other is a saver, the two need to work together to find common ground. We talked to HerWay.com's dating and relationship expert, DeAnna Lorraine for her expert advice on how to meet in the middle on money issues.
Seek to compromise, rather than change
Each person has a 'money style' or 'money personality' — how you feel about money and the way you manage it. It has been formed over many years and is unlikely to change significantly after you become an adult because it has been heavily engrained over time. However, if you learn strategies, you can learn to at least compromise if this is something that's important to your partner. So the couple should focus on compromise of each other's spending habits, rather than full-on change.
Talk about it
Have open and honest, non-judgmental communication about the money issue. If your money habits are an issue, talk about them and get it out in the open. If one party stifles the problem and doesn't bring up their frustration, it is only going to intensify and come out in a worse way later on and there will be resentment. Any issues should be openly discussed, and rather than making the other person wrong or feel bad, seek to understand each parties different spending habits and motivations for their money style, and let them know how it makes you feel. Just the act of understanding where the other partner is coming from is tremendously helpful in finding a common ground; otherwise it can be easy to just assume one is a cheapskate or a spendthrift.
Teach each other about your personal money styles
Rather than being judgmental about the other partner's spending behavior, or making the other's behavior wrong, recognize that each actually has its own positive side to it, and show appreciation for that positive side. Then, it's important that each party teach each other about the benefits of their money style, and how to do it, so they can learn and make an improvement to their style rather than feel frustrated. The spender can actually teach the saver some important things, and the saver can teach the spender some important things. The spender can teach the saver how to enjoy the fruits of their labor more and reward themselves for their hard work. The saver can teach the spender how to make a budget and keep within it, and what some of the benefits are to saving rather than spending everything. Appreciate each partner's good financial qualities that they bring to the table.
Set inspiring goals together
Goals such as a dream vacation, second or better home, new car, etc. Setting goals together as a couple allows each partner to feel like they have a stake in reaching those goals, and helps the spender feel more inspired to save for the bigger picture. Revisit your goals at least annually, and make adjustments based on changing priorities and finances.
Have separate spending accounts
You actually should have three separate spending accounts — His, Hers and Ours accounts. Each has their own account with their own money in it which offers each their own financial freedom (and takes a lot of the stress of the saver to constantly monitor the spender like a parent) as well as an Ours account which can be used for things like dinners, groceries, bills, etc., that you can both take from and not be asked about. Then, check in on those accounts monthly and see if there are any adjustments that need to be made.
Establish a budget together, and hold each other accountable
Talk about how much is okay to spend per month, and have a budget for things like shopping, beauty, entertainment, etc. that you can agree on. The saver can also reward the spender if she stays within the budget every month, and an extra reward if she puts money to savings.
Have some patience
If you are the saver, and the spender is in the process of learning to save and manage his/her money better and is genuinely trying to learn, don't be too harsh on her. Understand that modifying a long-time habit like this will take some time and patience, so refrain from micro-managing her like a father and reward her when your partner does well.
Take a class
Enroll in a financial budgeting or money-management course together. This is very helpful and also a great way to bond as a couple.