Relationships take work. Both partners sometimes need to compromise, and it’s natural for tension to build.
One of the most common sources of conflict? Money.
“It’s such a problem between couples,” said Dr. Sherri Newpol, psychologist and owner of Newpol Psychological Services.
But some couples would rather pay to make the tension go away.
Policygenius’ second annual Couples & Money survey revealed 43.5% of people in a relationship say they would spend money to avoid a fight. Of those that said they would spend money, 26% say they would spend more than $1,000 to avoid an argument.
Why do couples spend money to avoid conflict?
“You have to ask, ‘Why are you spending money to avoid talking about something?’” said Newpol. “The biggest issue here is avoidance. Why are we avoiding the topic of money?”
Purchases can often lead to fights, she said. One partner may give in to a pricey purchase to avoid conflict, or agree to a money management plan they don’t feel comfortable with.
“Some people just don’t like to say no or disagree,” said Newpol. “Is it so painful to talk about finances that we dig into our paychecks?”
How couples can avoid money arguments
A lack of financial transparency can lead to distrust. According to the same survey, one in five people in a relationship say their partner is financially responsible. These couples are 10 times more likely to break up than those who consider their partner financially responsible.
Talking about money can be difficult. But knowledge is power, Newpol said. Working on communication between you and your partner can help both parties make more informed financial decisions.
How can couples avoid money fights? Catalina Franco-Cicero, a certified financial planner at Tobias Financial Advisors, suggests creating a “Couple’s Creed,” or a written money plan.
“It can be a way to address tough money conversations before difficult decisions come your way,” she said. “The purpose is to create a description of how you would like to be as a couple, financially.”
While there are no set guidelines on how couples should do money together, having a financial game plan can help avoid problems down the road. Here are some tips to keep in mind.
- Set your goals. Think about where you want to be financially in five to 10 years. Maybe you want to buy a home. Or pay off your debt. From there, decide how you and your partner want to tackle the goal together. Couples can save up for shared goals in a joint bank account and have separate accounts for individual goals.
- Build a budget. Try a budgeting app, like Mint or You Need a Budget, which links to your financial accounts and tracks your money in real time. Or go old school with a downloadable budgeting spreadsheet. Include fixed expenses and discretionary spending. Revisit it regularly and adjust when needed. Or consider using a budgeting app geared towards couples. We have reviews of Honeydue and Zeta.
- Communicate more often. Sit down with your partner at least once a month and check in. Revisit your goals and budget to make sure you’re on track.
“It can be hard to let go of the control you had when you managed money alone,” said Newpol. “But working on communication in general can benefit the couple in the long term.”
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Image: H. Armstrong Roberts