"Couples start to go wrong when they stop communicating about how they are spending the family's money," says Campbell. Most couples stay financially focused, however there are some couples that stray and start to think of their earnings as their own, not considering how this affects the family's financial stability, she says. "In these cases they're often using money as a control mechanism. For example, 'I will give you money if…' This strongly causes division in couples and results in a power struggle," she explains.
Other fights will crop up if you are simmering with money resentment
"When couples don't deal with the root of the problem, resentment builds up," Campbell says. "And it should also be noted that other arguments are waiting to crop up as an excuse or a way to deal with the long-term resentment." Financial issues can be extremely problematic in relationships if they are not dealt with, she adds.
It's true: Money fights can lead to divorce
"It is has often been said that the number one reason for divorce are financial difficulties," Campbell says. Interestingly, she says a sense of betrayal can be the precipitating factor. "Without a doubt, the clients we see indicate that their financial struggles have put a severe burden on their relationship. Different money management styles are certainly one of the many reasons that couples think of, or head for, divorce. When a couple is unable to resolve their financial problems, they tend to find it very difficult to get past the financial betrayal," Campbell says. "However, if the situation is beyond the couple's control, such as job loss or illness, the resentment is usually not there and they do try to work together to resolve their financial dilemmas."
Page 1 of 2 – See 11 quick tips on page 2 to learn how to work together to manage your money.
Seek credit counseling early on
Couples should seek help early if they are struggling to manage their finances, says Campbell, because the worst thing for a relationship – and pocketbook – is to let issues fester. Not-for-profit credit counseling services across Canada, such as Credit Canada, can help, she says.
11 quick and easy tips to manage your money better as a couple
1. Consider a joint account for household expenses if you are both employed, with contributions possibly pegged to how much each partner earns.
2. Get out the pen and paper and write things down. Putting things in writing helps keep emotions in check.
3. Nix the blame game. Blaming each other for money problems will just spill over into arguments in other parts of your life, too.
4. Schedule time to talk about money on the weekend when neither partner is too busy or stressed.
5. Avoid bringing up how other couples handle money; it's usually irrelevant to your situation.
6. Keep your individual credit cards. Credit Canada says two individual strong credit histories are better than a joint credit history if you apply for a loan.
7. Discuss personal windfalls, such as inheritance. Agree on how to spend this money as a couple and you and your spouse will be the happier for it.
8. Talk about your individual investments and debts, too. Keeping your partner up-to-date on what's going on with your money will avoid potential fights down the road.
9. Evenly split your money-management responsibilities and tasks. Learn about money management and don't be passive.
10. Involve the kids: They won't benefit from being sheltered, and want to know about the family's finances (which will also come in handy if you need to tell them certain expensive purchases or vacations are out of reach).
11. Develop short-term and long-term goals and keep on top of them with progress reports or a net-worth statement
It's probably inevitable that you and your partner will disagree about money at some point, but to prevent minor disagreements from becoming marriage-busters, keep the communication lines open. Talk with each other, share information with your kids and carve out regular, low-stress sessions to chat about money and planning.
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