The biggest problems in relationships and the causes of divorce in the U.S. revolve around money issues. Financial problems can get in the way of your relationship if you let them, but it’s all about communication and compromise.
Here are a few common reasons couples fight about money — and how to resolve these issues before they interfere with your relationship:
You Spend Too Much
Regardless of whether you combine your finances or keep them separate, the two of you should always stay on the same page based on how much each of you spends. There’s nothing worse than trying to stay on budget, and you come to find out your significant other has spent $300 on clothes they didn’t need, or $500 on a gadget they didn’t discuss with you first, especially if it comes at the expense of a savings goal, reducing your debt, or paying your bills.
If you feel that your spouse is spending too much money, have a talk with them about where the problem lies (if they’re spending the money in one particular place). Some people feel threatened when their spouse tries to tell them how to spend their money or how much money they should or should not spend. Instead, come up with a number where you don’t have to check in with each other every time you each spend something. For example, if the item is under $100, there doesn’t need to be a discussion about whether or not it’s a good idea to buy it. If it’s over $100, it shouldn’t be bought without running it by the other person. It’s not necessarily asking permission, rather, it’s staying on the same page.
We’re Not Saving Enough
Savings goals are huge for individuals and for couples. You may be saving for a big ticket item like a down payment for a home, or you could have a vacation fund where you set a bit of money aside regularly to pay for your trip. Sometimes, there’s one person who is more aggressive when it comes to saving, and another person who just isn’t as passionate about meeting the goal.
Again, communication is a huge factor when it comes to solving this problem. Don’t look to place all of the blame on the other person. Instead, come up with a goal you can both contribute to comfortably. If you want to be more aggressive in meeting the saving goal in a timely manner, both of you should sit down with your budget and see what areas you can cut spending in order to save more. Can you completely eliminate a bill? Can you set up an automatic savings plan where a portion of your paychecks are direct deposited into your savings account, so you won’t even miss it? Can you supplement your savings by selling things or finding a side hustle? Weigh your different options and see what’s the best route to take to reach your goal in a timely manner.
You Make More Than Me
There’s very rarely equality when it comes to the salary a couple makes. One spouse almost always makes more than another. While this may not be a problem for all couples, and they can be perfectly fine with it, there are some people who feel intimidated or inadequate if they’re not making as much money as their spouse.
If this is the case, do not harbor resentment towards your significant other. Think about ways you can make additional money. Can you take on a second job? Have you considered starting your own business on the side? Have you talked to your supervisor about a raise at your job? While this can start off as a personal issue, it can most certainly interfere with your relationship if you let it. If it gets to that point, and you’ve thought about ways to make more money, again, talk it out. There may be some insight your spouse can give you that you overlooked.
Get a “Real Job”
While everyone would love to work at their dream job and have a career doing something they enjoy every day, it’s not a reality for some people. You may be working a job you don’t particularly like in order to pay the bills on time every month, while your spouse is chasing a dream that is not bringing in enough money, if it’s bringing in money at all. It then puts the financial burden on your shoulders. While you’d love to be supportive, you also have to be realistic and you may need some help. Or maybe you’re the one who’s been working hard on making your dream career come true and the pressure is on you to either make it happen or give up.
To approach this issue, there should be a discussion about a deadline: a set date where if the dream job doesn’t become a reality, there will be a plan B to find another job. It can light the fire under the person who is pursuing the dream to really give it their all to make their dreams come true, and it can give the other person hope that things will work themselves out by a certain date. It can be difficult, but the “real job” argument does not have to claim your relationship.
Can We Afford This House?
Home ownership is part of the American Dream, and the economy has put a damper on this dream for millions of people. While there are many who have lost their homes due to the housing bubble burst, it has made couples really reconsider if they can afford their mortgage or not. There were so many people who bought homes they could not afford, whether it was due to their income or the type of loan they took out.
To avoid this, take the time to sit down and budget how much you can actually afford to pay, comfortably, every month. Are you factoring in utilities, emergencies, inflation, and a possible drop in income? Do you have a back-up plan? Are you trying to buy a home with all the bells and whistles that come at a premium, or are you finding homes that have your necessities, and you can do without the perks for now?
A Common Thread
One common thread for all of these money problems is that you have to keep the line of communication open and talk with your spouse. It doesn’t matter how you handle your money, as long as you both are on the same page about what the problem is and how to fix it. Try to keep an open mind, work toward the same goals, and don’t allow these issues to claim your relationship.