Sunday, April 1, 2007

When You Don’t See Eye to Eye on Finances

The new relationship gurus all say the same thing: Discuss everything before you get into a serious relationship. While that sounds like a great piece of advice sometimes love gets in the way of reason. For many people love comes first and then money, or fights about money begin to spring up. Is it possible to live with someone who has a completely different take on finances? It can be if you follow a few ground rules.

Communication is key. If you are having money issues, don’t bring them up during a heated argument. Find a time when you are both calm and able to talk. For example don’t bring it up around friends or on a short car ride. As cheesy as it sounds, use “I” statements that tell how YOU feel about the matter. (As opposed to “You always overspend”) Allow your partner to share as well. By talking about things calmly you may come up with some solutions you hadn’t thought of previously.

Plan together. Does your mate know what you want to do with your money? Do you know what he wants to do with his? One discussion you could start out with is what your goals are in the near and distant future. (Of course, according to the experts, you should have already done this, but hey, priorities change) If your goals are not the same you should each choose the one that is most important to you, or the closest to being attainable, and help each other meet those goals.

Open a new account. If you already have a joint account, open two new accounts-one for you and your spouse individually. Or, if you are both keeping separate accounts then open one together to keep both parties responsible for the finances. Each month both of you should contribute to the joint account to pay bills. Any leftover money is yours to do with as you please.

When to cut loose. If your significant other is causing YOU to go into debt, it is time to let ‘em go. This could be from using your credit without your permission or from you always feeling the need to bail him out. I don’t know why but it seems like women have a bigger problem with that than men do. If you have tried talking and planning and setting up rules for new purchases, etc, but he or she continues to ignore it, you may need to consider moving on. This is especially true for women because we live longer than men do. We must be able to save for retirement or we will spend the rest of our lives working or trying to live off of the government. Which you could technically call living in poverty.

The number one cause of fights between couples is money. I am sure you have heard that before. However, I have found that communication and planning together truly can solve many problems before they start. Of course there are always those who are not willing to play nice. You have to be the judge. Is it worth your financial future to stay in that type of relationship? Probably not.

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