Relationships: How to Stop Arguing with Your Spouse About Money

Relationships: How to Stop Arguing with Your Spouse About Money

It is starting again. You or your spouse spent some money on something that the other one thought was unimportant, and the fight is on. On another occasion, the battle may be over who is responsible for paying a large expense or a bill from a creditor. The argument may be about the fact that there is too little income coming into the household.

Conflict over money is not new and is not a stranger to most marriages. Learning how to resolve the problem so that it stays away is critical for a relationship to survive and flourish. No system to solve the issue is perfect, but using a few simple tools may help you make progress against it.

Agree on a household or family budget.

Most of the time arguments over money start because no ground rules are in place to guide spending. Many people believe that if they earn the money, they have the right to choose how to spend it. This is true if you are single. If you are married with household expenses and maybe children to support, your spending needs a plan so that essential needs now and in the future can be covered financially.

The only way to really deal with this is a family budget that both spouses have labored over and agreed on. Without input from both sides and mutual agreement to live within the confines of the budget, it is useless to have one. Learn how to create a budget and then stick to it.

Discuss major purchases

Discuss any potential variances from the budget before unilaterally choosing to violate the budget agreement. Remember, wars have started over less. Your spouse deserves to have input before money budgeted for other needs is spend on a whim. The only justification that you can have for spending money without discussing it is that you are afraid your spouse will veto it. It is okay if this happens. It is much fairer than your decision to remove your spouse’s ability to have money to pay future bills without being consulted if you secretly spend the money.

Set up individual allowances

Everyone needs some discretionary money. Each family member should have a small amount of the family budget that is theirs to control. You can spend or save this money without the permission of others. If you want a large purchase, save up for it.

Build up an emergency fund

Unexpected things happen all of the time. However, most unexpected expenses are the result of naturally occurring events. Cars wear out and break down. Clothing has to be replaced because children outgrow it. Most of these things should be planned for and included in the budget. Illness, accidents, and other one-time expenses are difficult to build into a budget. Setting aside an amount the equals not less than one half of your monthly budget will cover most of these unexpected events.

Agree not to have financial secrets

Talk, talk, and talk some more about your finances to your spouse. Do not hide money or bills from each other. Even planning a surprise windfall can backfire. Trust is crucial to a relationship. Secrets erode trust. Many money argument erupt over secrets and are intensified because trust is missing from the relationship.

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