Financial Planning Considerations For Couples
By John Halterman
It’s gut-check time. Have you ever fought with your significant other about money? Or maybe a better question is, how often do these fights happen? Many couples average three fights per month revolving around financial issues, (1) and disagreements about finances are the most common predictors of a future divorce. (2) Even if you are in the minority and arguments are rare, your relationship has probably felt the tension that finances can cause. A study from the American Psychological Association found that money was the leading cause of stress among Americans. (3) That stress often escalates when you add in a second party who might have different ideas about how to handle money.
Why is it so difficult for money and love to peacefully coexist?
Emotions, Opinions, And Personality, Oh My!
It’s no secret that finances tend to stir up plenty of emotions and cause stress in everyday life, so couples may try to keep the peace by keeping mum about money. In addition, everyone has their own opinion on how to manage money, and most of us also have a unique financial personality. Some of us are savers, some are spenders. Some of us may be conservative, while others are free spirits. These differences can cause friction and discord, which then affects all other aspects of the relationship.
But no matter what the statistics tell us, money doesn’t have to be a stress point in a relationship. Here are a few simple strategies that may help couples avoid financial friction.
Unfortunately, honesty regarding money isn’t a guarantee in a relationship. 31% of married adults admit to potentially deceitful financial behavior. (4) It’s important for both partners to offer full disclosure of their finances and be open about expenses, regardless of whether you’re married or you live together, have joint accounts or separate bank accounts. You and your spouse should be aware of how you spend your money, especially when it comes to significant expenses, loans, or ongoing fees. Studies show that around 49% of financial arguments are about unexpected expenses. (5) By maintaining an open line of communication regarding spending habits and upcoming bills, you may be able to avoid such confrontations.
Watch Your Timing
Since conversations about money are often emotionally charged, choose a time to talk about your financial situation or make decisions when both of you are at your best. Don’t wait until the end of a long, stressful day or right before you have to walk out the door. It’s also important to be preemptive, having discussions to set boundaries and expectations to avoid future problems. In other words, don’t wait until one of you splurges on a new TV or you go over budget on a vacation to set limits on spending.
Cater To Your Strengths, But Work As A Team
Most often, one spouse acts as the Chief Financial Officer of the household, managing all bills, budgets, savings, investments, and insurance policies. However, it can be helpful for both partners to understand their financial situation. If time allows, sit down together once a month for a financial check-in to review credit card statements, account transactions, and other bills and check for any possible errors. Ongoing input from both partners will strengthen your relationship and create a true partnership.
Find What Works For You
You don’t have to go far to find financial advice, but not every system or philosophy will work for your relationship. Glean ideas from experts, family members, or friends, but be flexible, allowing yourself to experiment and find a financial framework in which you both can thrive. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different methods of budgeting, saving, or debt payoff, and remember that as life changes, you may need to adapt your finances to your new circumstances.
Set aside a portion of pocket money that you and your spouse can each spend every month on something you love, whether it’s a massage, a round of golf, or a steak dinner. Along with saving for long-term goals, set small objectives you can reasonably accomplish each month and celebrate your success.
Bring In A Third Party
Sometimes the best way to ease money tensions is to work with an objective third party, whether that’s a financial professional, a marriage counselor, or both. A financial professional can work with you and your spouse to review your financial landscape, identify any gaps in your insurance coverage, assist you in establishing short-term and long-term goals, help you stay on track, and provide professional and knowledgeable advice.
Although the topic of finance can occasionally cause tension, money doesn’t have to become a constant source of concern in a relationship. Invest the time to address spending habits and savings goals, uphold transparency regarding purchases, and communicate effectively.
How We Can Help
At Beacon Wealth Management, we care about your relationship. We want to help you by taking some of the financial burden off your back. If you know that your relationship and your finances would benefit from the objectivity and experience of a professional, we are here to help. Request a free 60-minute discovery consultation or contact us at (304) 626-3900 or firstname.lastname@example.org to start your journey toward financial harmony.
John is the founder and owner of Beacon Wealth Management. He specializes in helping entrepreneurs, professional practitioners, and retiree red-zoners overcome the major financial challenges facing affluent families.
As a trusted and friendly financial partner, John delivers a collaborative client experience that empowers and guides people to reach a greater purpose for their wealth and pursue their financial dreams. He understands the multifaceted set of financial worries people face as they become more successful and get within the retirement red zone.
John is well-regarded throughout the business community for his expertise. He has appeared as an expert guest on The Brian Tracy Show and Hollywood Live with Jack Canfield, is the co-author of the book Masters of Success with Brian Tracy, is the host of the WDTV News 5 segment “Solutions 4 Financial Independence,” and has conducted hundreds of educational events on Retirement and Investment Advisory, Tax Reduction, and Wealth Transfer Planning. These include many Universities, Federal Employee Organizations, Professional Associations, and Large Energy Companies throughout the eastern United States.
With more than two decades of experience, John is credentialed as a Certified Wealth Strategist (CWS), Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF), Certified Estate Planner (CEP), Chartered Federal Employee Benefits Consultant (ChFEBC), Professional Plan Consultant (PPC), and Registered Financial Consultant (RFC). He is also a past multi-year member of Ed Slott’s Master Elite IRA Study Group.
A native of Weston, West Virginia, John served in the United States Air Force prior to becoming a Wealth Advisor. Today, he resides with his family in Clarksburg, West Virginia. He and his wife, Lisa, have been married since 2005 and have three amazing children. A family-oriented man, he is passionate about giving back to his community, coaching youth sports, landscaping, architectural design, and playing racquetball.