Even the hottest of romances hit a few bumps in the road. Whether it’s forgetting the anniversary of your first date or trying to get out of walking the dog, there’s plenty to fight about when you’re in love. So why should finances pile unnecessary stress on your relationship?
Here’s a look at three financial feuds you just don’t need to have.
1. Lying about money.
Fibbing to your sweetie about how much you spent (or charged on the credit card), that you forgot to balance the checkbook or pay a bill on time can lead to feelings of betrayal. And cause a chasm to grow in between the two of you.
“People lie about money because they are trying to avoid an argument or being criticized. Hoping that the topic will not come up is a short-term solution. Of course, the truth usually will come out,” says Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. a former accountant turned psychotherapist in the Los Angeles area, and author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage
Lying about money is risky to your finances, too. You could end up paying unnecessary services charges if your partner doesn’t realize the credit card is close to being maxed out or if your unbalanced checkbook slips into the red.
Forgo the fight: Make a weekly date to have very specific discussions about spending trends and habits, budgets and limits. The concept of date sets the tone that you’re a couple working together and vested in each other instead of two people sharing the same checkbook. It reminds you that you’re emotionally connected and on the same team.
And don’t discuss finances while you’re both commuting to work, on the run, when it’s late at night, or while watching TV. Instead, Tessina says, you should make a date for discussing finances, and take the time to sit down together, with all the proper information, and discuss your needs, wants and means.
2. I make more money than you/You don’t earn enough money.
The size of your paychecks has the potential to be a perennial hot button topic. And can bring out the worst in the best of couples.
Tessina says all that bragging about the size of a paycheck or belittling a partner about the size of their pay is hurtful and destructive to a relationship.
Forgo the fight: Should the words “I make more than you…” make their way to the tip of your tongue, Tessina suggests swallowing them instead of saying them out loud. “It’s better to say, ‘Do you think our combined incomes are enough to support the household or reach our goals?’ than to be hurtful or belittling,” she says.
Instead of blurting out something hurtful try looking to other contributions you both offer the household. Make a list of the monetary and other types (raising the kids, errands, picking up the household slack because of not working as many hours, etc.) of contributions you both make to see the roles each of you play and look at how those roles complement each other.
3. What you see as a want your partner sees as a need.
One of you thinks a pair of designer shoes or sunglasses is an absolute necessity; a need. After all, those new sunglasses will help you prevent headaches caused by the sun. But the other one isn’t sold on the need aspect and deems the potential purchase more of a want or a luxury. And this squabble is ignited time and time again, over things like new shoes for the kids, replacing the family jalopy, replacing the roof or purchasing a new appliance.
Forgo the fight: Instead of fighting over individual wants and needs, look to a technique called “matched pairs” to find mutual wants and needs. Start with you and your partner both making lists of all the things you want to buy or afford—those cool new golf club, a new car, the kids’ braces or even a new refrigerator.
Then compare lists to pair up similar items on the list. Any pair that matches is an obvious goal to work toward or purchase to make if it fits into your budget.
The remaining unmatched items on the list become obvious wants that should receive less priority because they’re not mutual. Then start a wanted account and allocate a portion of your income to the account to fund the mutually agreed upon wants.