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Handling Finances in Your Relationship

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, finances probably aren’t the first thing on your mind. But money plays such a huge role in long-term relationships that it’s definitely something you should talk about. Unfortunately, some couples find it so stressful to discuss financial plans that they avoid it altogether.
In a recent American Express Survey, nearly half the respondents said financial discussions with their significant other typically end in fights.  And 72 percent of young professionals reported they’ve argued about money with their partner. So whether you’re a newlywed, or have been married for 50 years, here are some tips for discussing finances without a fight.
  • Sit down and talk about your financial goals and values.
As soon as you realize your new relationship is serious, and you’re in it for the long haul, it’s important to have an honest conversation about your financial goals. While you may be a spender, your spouse may prefer to save. Talk about where you each want your money to go – a house, your children’s college education, travel, entertainment, retirement. Find your common ground then prioritize your goals so you each know what is most important to you both.
  • Develop a plan.
Once you know what your goals are, plan how you will reach them, and put a time frame on each one. Be sure to consider any joint or separate checking accounts, all sources of income and all expenses. You can then decide where to limit spending in order to have money to put toward the things that really matter.
  • Design a system to handle your finances.
Household finances are generally best handled as a team – each spouse should play a role so that neither one is in the dark. Give each person specific responsibilities, like balancing the checkbook or paying the bills. This way, you both have a clear understanding of your financial situation.
  • Hold bi-weekly financial meetings.
It may sound formal, but setting aside time every other week to discuss your finances ensures that the conversation remains open. By committing to a regularly scheduled review, you can address issues that come up before money gets tight (and things get stressful)! Review the income and expenses for the household, paying attention to any big purchases that might be coming up or noting if you’ve been spending more than you planned on things like dining out. 

Always keep the conversation going, since your goals will change as often as your (hopefully long and happy) life together. So when your kids are out of the house, you can plan new ways to spend all that extra money!

Just remember that household finances should be a team effort, and communication is key. It may not be a traditional idea of romance, but it’s a thoughtful gift to the person you love.

Article submitted by Sharon