Money and financial arguments are among the top causes of divorce in the US today.
According to a 2009 study by Jeffrey Dew, if you and your spouse fight about money on average one time per week, you are 30% more likely to divorce. Fighting about it more than that just increases your risk.
I don’t think it’s as cut and dry as that – my personal opinion is that there are probably many issues going on and finances just get cited the most often. They just end up taking the brunt of the blame.
Regardless, I think we can all agree that the less we worry and fight about money, the healthier our relationships are.
If you and your spouse are currently at odds over money in your marriage, consider implementing these five tips when you have your next conversation regarding the family finances.
It might not stop the fighting completely, but it might just lay down a better foundation for your future conversations.
1. Make a Budget
I know, I know you’ve heard make a budget a million times. Maybe it’s worked for you, maybe it hasn’t. Maybe you’ve never actually tried to implement one.
Regardless of your past experience with a budget, try at least one more time. Write it down on a piece of notebook paper, start a new excel spreadsheet or use some fancy schmancy software – I don’t care!
The main thing I’m going after, is do you fall in the red (negative) or black (positive) at the end of the month based on your income and committed expenses?
If you’re always in the red, there’s not much mystery why you’re fighting! Knowing your numbers is half the battle.
Need help with budgeting? I recommend taking a look at YNAB budgeting software.
2. Schedule a Non-Negotiable Date
Schedule a no if’s, and’s or but’s date once a week (or at the very least once per month) where you agree that the topic of conversation is a family budget or financial discussion. Look at your upcoming week and/or month and forecast what expenses (both planned and unplanned) your family might incur.
Talk through your budget together and decide if you need to make any changes.
Should some expenses get cut? Does one of you need to pick up some overtime, start a side hustle or look for a part-time job?
What creative ways can you together bring in more money or decrease your monthly outflow?
3. Make It Fun!
Make it all business the first half, but then have an actual date the second half. You can go out or stay in. Watch a movie, exercise or just find ways to make each other laugh!
If you had some disagreements in the first half, put some rules in place that they can’t be brought up while you’re on the date part of the evening. Make it light, be creative and have some fun! It might just deposit some coin into your relationship bank.
4. Set Goals as a Team
Brainstorm what you’d like to accomplish financially together in 2015. Set some small and big financial goals. Things that you just need to stick to your budget to be able to accomplish and maybe a stretch goal or two that would motivate you to work a little harder to make it happen.
Don’t just have one of you come up with the goals. Agree on them together instead. You are a team – in marriage, as parents and regarding your finances.
It doesn’t matter if one of you brings home the bacon or the other one pays the bills, ultimately it’s your money together and you should both be involved.
5. Celebrate Big and Small Wins
Ready to pay off a credit card balance? Pay it off together online, via check or over the phone. Do a little dance and make sure to celebrate.
Saved up enough money to buy your next vehicle in cash? Go buy it together!
Drive off the lot with a plan to take a long drive and bask in your awesome accomplishment.
Money can be a real source of conflict in your marriage – if you let it! But, you decide how much and when to talk money with your spouse.
Consider making a budget if you haven’t (ever or recently), set aside a special time once per week or month to talk finances and try to make it fun!
Remember to set goals as a team and to celebrate your wins together – big or small! Make 2015 the year where you turn your finances around – together, with your spouse!
Be honest, how often to squabble about money with your spouse?