Does your spouse think Starbucks is just money down the drain? Do you think the money your spouse plans to spend on your child’s upcoming birthday party takes the cake? Does your spouse hardly have enough room for all their tools or shoes? Couples disagree about money all the time. In fact a personal finance site found, 48% of Americans in a serious relationship “argue about finances”. But what if there was a way to stop fights about money before they start?
That peace and quiet would be worth millions to some couples.
There is no arguing that fights about money are annoying and if they continue, they may lead to a seriously negative consequence. In fact, studies list “money” as the #1 reason Americans cite when they get divorced.
Some studies even show it takes “longer to recover” from a fight about money than any other kind of dispute.
Long or even short recovery, no couple wants to fight about money regularly. Or even experience the feeling of distrust or frustration that comes with disagreeing about the use of money in their relationship. So what to do? Try this. Here are our 3T’s to stop fights about money before they start:
Be open and honest about your feelings about your spending and saving. And your emotions around how your spouse approaches it. You don’t have to justify your feelings. If you’re having them, they are real and worth discussing.
Just last week I was transparent with Bethany about some expenses that she and the boys were racking up that was bothering me. Now, it may not sound like much to you, but she and the boys were heading into the Kum and Go store every single time we filled up for gas. I swear they were stocking up for a hurricane (and we live in Colorado).
That night I mentioned my anxiety to Bethany and she was surprised. She had “no idea” that I felt that way. And she said she’d be happy to stop.
Had I not been transparent our budget would have continued taking a hit. I would have gotten silently irritated every time we filled with fuel. And she would never have known why all of a sudden I seemed irritated. She could have thought, “Maybe he thinks gas prices are too high or the fumes get to him.” She would have never guessed without me telling her.
Timing is everything. When you decide to discuss money really matters.
Bethany knows not to talk to me about money at 8:30 a.m. or 8:30 p.m. I don’t want to start my day with it and I certainly don’t want to try and figure something out about our finances when my tank is starting to run on empty.
A different individual may welcome the discussion at 8:30 a.m. in the morning when they’re feeling fresh and ready to tackle the world. Ask your spouse, so you know.
Also, don’t spring a money discussion on your spouse. Give them a heads up. “Hey, I’ve got a few questions about our money. Can we cover that tonight after dinner?”
Timing is critical in starting out a money discussion on the right foot.
Your mom was right. You should, “Think before you speak.” This may sound simple, but if we all just took a breath and thought before we said something life would look very different.
Grouchy tweets, harsh words, or lightning fast assumptions don’t make any situation better.
Think before you speak. Before you just jump in with your thoughts and assumptions, think.
Recently we had a golf ball break our double pane window. So I took the time to call around for multiple quotes. I laid them all out on the table one morning and left for work. One of the quotes, for whatever reason, said “Paid” at the bottom. (I wish.)
Bethany got home from work before me that night and looked through the quotes. She thought I’d already picked a company and paid for the work before it was even done. This did not thrill my wife. BUT she waited until I got home and asked me about it.
If she had called me at work to complain about my handling of the glass repair it wouldn’t have gone well. But she sat on it and waited for a good time to talk it through with me. She thought it was odd and not great, but she thought and waited before jumping to conclusions. And it made all the difference to our relationship. Stop fights about money before they start.
Money is difficult to escape. Every day seems to have some new expense demanding your hard-earned money. We can only change that so much. BUT what we can change is how we react to one another about those expenses.
Your relationship is worth far more than any fight about money. Before you lose your temper, take a breath be honest about your feelings, make sure it’s the best tie to discuss your money and your feelings, and then think before you make the situation worse.
Interested to know more details about how you approach money? Identify your Primary and Secondary Money Personalities through our free, online, scientific Money Personality Assessment. It definitely helps during the “think” stage if you know how their main and secondary way they view money.
Knowledge is like money. Every little bit helps.
Scott & Bethany Palmer
The Money Couple
Creators of the 5 Money Personalities