how to avoid fighting over money
Recently I had a conversation with one of my friends who told me she was constantly fighting with her nearest and dearest over money. They just didn’t seem to be able to agree on what they should do financially. She felt they should clean up some of the debt they had got themselves into. He didn’t think there was really an issue at all. She thought he was financially irresponsible. He though all she did was worry about tomorrow. Sound familiar ? Their arguments got me thinking about the relationship we have with money.
If you carried out a survey the world over, I think you’d find the above argument isn’t unusual. Couples tend to fight over three main topics – children, sex and of course, money. Which of course has led me to writing this blog.
When we get together with someone, we are very quick to acknowledge we have different ideas, wants and desires. For the most part, our individual personalities and differences don’t cause too much tension between us. But when it comes down to money, we seem to lose sight of the fact that diversity in our thinking and doing is more likely than not. For some unknown reason we assume we’ll be on the same page and reading from the same book when dealing with moo-la. Assumptions of course makes asses out of all of us.
Frequently our differences mean we end up arguing over money much like my friends have done. This is not only a waste of energy but ultimately can lead to some serious relationship damage. So how do we avoid relationship shipwreck?
We probably all agree that arguing is mostly counter-productive. For some people this means simply avoiding the subject of money altogether. This unfortunately can wreck havoc just as much as an out and out hum dinger screaming match. For others, continual small digs at each other over who is spending what seems to be the norm. This behavioural response doesn’t produce much better results than outright fighting. By far the better solution is to be conscious about the subject and to practice what I call the 10 Golden Rules.
Rule 1: Gaining an awareness of yourself and your partner as individual money personalities is vital. Acknowledge that you will have different ideas about the importance of money in your lives. This will affect how you think you should save and spend money and what money goals you have as individuals and as a couple. Once you make this acknowledgement to yourselves and your partner, you will be more tolerant towards each other. Have a look at my previous blog on money personalities.
Rule 2: Put some time aside for a discussion on the subject of money. Choose an appropriate time to have this discussion with your partner. When you are tired and pressured is not an ideal time to raise this topic.
Rule 3: When you have your money discussion, try to establish why you hold the views you do about money. Discuss with your partner how your parents dealt with money in their household and what they taught you about the subject. Talk about your own childhood, teenage and early adult experiences. How did you think about and deal with money? Remember the relationship we have with moo la is shaped by our upbringing and our own life experiences.
Rule 4: Remember in your discussions you don’t have to win every battle to win a war. Pick your words carefully and be generous to your partner. If you find your discussion veering veer off course and you are beginning to disagree over unrelated subjects, end your talk. If one of you is trying to control, intimidate or manipulate the other person, communication and agreement will be severely inhibited. This is a short run game with very large nasty long run consequences.
Rule 5: Try to reach an agreement as to how you want to approach your own money and how you want to approach it as a couple. Determine what money system you want to implement. Will you have one joint cheque and savings account where you pool your incomes and pay all your joint and individual bills or do you want to have one joint account where you pay joint expenses and have your own individual savings accounts? Will you contribute equally to your joint account or will you contribute on a percentage basis based on how much each of you earn?
Rule 6: At all times you need to bear in mind that you are a couple. What affects one person can affect the other. For this reason, recall you are a unit, facing the world together and nothing brings a unit closer than having some shared financial goals and strategies to achieve those goals. So create some joint objectives. It might be paying down some debt, saving for a holiday or buying a home. Whatever it is, plan what you want to do and how you intend to do it together. It’s an investment in the future of your relationship.
Rule 7: I’ve mentioned debt above. In today’s times, it’s not unusual for one or both partners to a relationship to have some debt hanging around. I’m not an advocate for cleaning up other peoples money problems but if you are in a relationship and if you do intend to have a future together, it’s best to be aware of the debt that sitting on the shelf and put into place a plan to pay it down. Ultimately, if one of you has debt, it will affect your long run relationship and the goals you want to achieve.
Rule 8: Become involved jointly with making your financial lives work. Each person should participate in balancing the relationship cheque book. If there is a joint appreciation of what bills have to be paid and when those payments are due, it will create closeness between the partners and neither partner will feel they have to carry the responsibility of making the money scales balance all alone.
Rule 9: Put in place what I call the Disaster Recovery Account. This is an account where you keep a certain amount of money for a rainy day. You never know when a redundancy or a large bill is going to strike. Be armed. A few dollars in this bank account can ensure financial disaster is averted if a negative monetary event occurs in either or both of your lives.
Rule 10: Call in the artillery. Get some quality professional advice and help from advisors who are experienced at dealing with money. It’s a commodity to be grown and respected and put to work. Frequently having a chat with an independent party can give a couple clarity and direction on what financial objectives and plan will work for them.
There’s no right or wrong when it comes down to how we handle money individually or as a couple. But there are some sensible things you can do with your money. There are some smart choices you can make.
Like many things in life, it can sometimes be difficult to see the woods from the trees which is where we can help. Over the years, we’ve seen all sorts of clients with all sorts of different money issues. Some people have debt they need to deal with. Other people wonder how on earth they are going to get ahead. Some families worry about teaching their children about money. Others want to help their kids get on the property or business ladder.
Whatever the issue is you think you need to deal with, a good hard look with an external professional like us can often be the difference between success and failure. We can help set goals and strategies to ensure you achieve what you set out to. Working with a profession like this not only increases your chances of succeeding financially but also has the added bonus of bringing you together as a couple. So if you want to work on your financial future with your nearest and dearest, give us a call and let us help you.
The Professional Trustee Team
Ph +64 9 522 7955