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Business // Thinking Smart
David S. Chang

Tips For Couples Talking Finances

Finances are an important but often neglected topic in relationships. Studies have shown that money is the No. 1 reason why couples argue, yet talking about it is surprisingly a low priority. According to Fidelity Investments, less than half of couples manage household finances together and only 38 percent talk openly about retirement planning. It may seem difficult to talk money with your honey, so here are some tips to get started:

1) Be Honest With Each Other. Each person in a relationship has his or her own money habits. A spouse who is a saver and another a spender, without talking to one another, can drive each other crazy! Each also may have financial baggage they bring to the relationship. Avoid keeping secrets. It is best to come clean about any debt or other financial issues. It is important to first acknowledge how you have handled money in the past and how you would like to handle money in the future. Don’t rush to judge or get frustrated if it doesn’t go as planned. Be calm, open and as objective as possible. The goal is to learn where the weaknesses and strengths are. This will help each other understand potential roadblocks in dealing with family finances.

2) Be Accountable to One Another. It is important to meet in the middle in dealing with your finances. Both people in the relationship will have to come up with a plan together, and help each other stick to it. If one person knows less than the other, try to become knowledgeable so you can weigh in and have an equal say in money management. In the Fidelity Survey, only 15 percent of the couples felt confident that either of them could take over the finances. If something may happen to your partner, you want to make sure that you can stay on top of the household finances. Holding each other accountable in spending and saving will help you keep your eye on your financial goals. Also be clear on spending and saving goals to prevent any ambiguity that can lead to problems.

3) Sit down with a professional. Sometimes talking to a third party professional financial adviser can help facilitate and take the emotions out of financial discussions. The pro also can help you stay on track of your financial goals, keep you accountable and offer advice.

4) Frequently review your money plan together. After you have agreed on a plan, it is important to review, maintain and adjust as needed. It is easy to slip up if you don’t revisit your plan together. Be flexible and adapt to each other’s personality and financial styles while keeping your focus on your financial goals.

As time goes on, you will know what works and what doesn’t work. If you are able to adequately work with your spouse on finances, it will help the relationship!

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