Fighting about money is among the most common areas of dispute between spouses. Not being on the same financial page results in added stress and disharmony, especially when one spouse does the financial heavy lifting, while the other stands by, offering only roadblocks or complaints. When this occurs, it's time to learn to work together to achieve financial goals through teamwork. One option is to ask your spouse to take ownership of recording all financial transactions, so he can see what's coming and going.
1. The importance of communication may be the most frequently mentioned and most-ignored piece of advice given to couples who fight about money. "Communicating" doesn't mean nagging, complaining or whining; simply state your needs, without editorializing. For example, "It's important for us to work together so we can enjoy our retirement. Managing our money together now is the best way to accomplish that goal."
2. Listen to your spouse. Ask her about her motives and fears. The website WealthPilgrim.com recommends asking your spouse to talk about what money means to her.
3. Admit your mistakes and apologize. Even the most financially responsible spouse may be guilty of nagging or manipulation. If that's the case, admit it, say you're sorry and stop the behavior immediately. Your spouse's lack of interest in the household's financial well-being may result from feelings of impotence or irrelevance.
4. Empower your spouse by setting goals together. Set aside time to review your assets and liabilities so she can see where your finances are. Discuss where you'd like to be in 1 year, in 5 years, in 10 years and at retirement. This will give your spouse an empowering sense of control.
5. Decide how you'll track your money. Let the reluctant spouse take charge of the bill-paying. That doesn't mean throw him to the creditor wolves; while it's unreasonable to expect a neophyte to completely manage all the finances, you can agree to sit down and do them together. Online budgeting software is an easy, cost-effective way to accomplish this; alternatively, enlist a neutral third-party accountability partner. While the affluent may be able to afford an accountant or financial advisor to take on this role, others may be able to ask a trusted confidante. Just make sure the person is neutral.
Items you will need
- Pay stubs
- Investment statements
- Budgeting software
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