Relationships almost always come with their fair share of disputes, but fighting about money can be another animal entirely. Managing joint finances is rarely easy, but keeping the lines of communication open can go a long way. Take a look at the most common money fights couples have and consider which strategies can help you avoid repeating the same arguments.
Whether it’s student loans, credit cards or costly car and mortgage payments, debt can make joint financial issues even more complicated. Perhaps one person came into the relationship with more debt or one of you is more committed to paying off that debt (and willing to live more frugally to do it). Whatever the situation, it’s important to add up the true cost of your debts, how much you are currently putting toward repayment each month and calculate how much you can save in interest by accelerating payments. You can also see how that debt is affecting your credit by getting your free credit report summary on Credit.com. In fact, reviewing your credit reports is also a worthwhile activity to do together as a couple.
2. Responsibility & Control
Ideally, you would work on your finances together in perfect harmony. This may be challenging, and it can be more convenient to make one person the point person for finances, or to at least organize the finances. It’s just important to make sure that person doesn’t have so much control that they feel overwhelmed or the other person feels like they are excluded. To alleviate that problem, schedule regular meetings to ensure bills are kept in check and both of you are on the same page.
Couples that once operated as individuals can have trouble creating boundaries when it comes to spending. It’s a good idea to sit down and discuss a budget you are both comfortable with, and then check in each month to make sure you are both following it. One way to do this to create a personal allowance for both of you. This isn’t about putting you or your partner on a financial leash, but about coming to terms with how you can realistically spend and manage money together.
4. Financial Goals & Attitudes
Everyone has different priorities even if you share your feelings and your life — whether saving for retirement, having life insurance, saving for children’s education or enjoying life to the fullest. If one of you tends to be more the “spender” and one the “saver,” try to understand those distinct relationships with money and acknowledge how your own attitudes can cause issues in the relationship. Plan together to find a balance and set goals to spend, save and invest. Try to find a compromise that doesn’t force either side to sacrifice whichever goals are the most important.
Being honest about merging finances is incredibly important. Anytime someone is dishonest, there will surely be trouble as it signals problems in your bank account and possibly even in the relationship. No matter how ashamed you may be about your financial past or present, keeping money secrets usually only make it worse. Talking it out may seem scary, but it can give your partner more insight into where your money values are coming from.
Hopefully this is not the case for you, but sometimes financial arguments are at the head of a deeper problem. If someone is a compulsive spender, has a gambling addiction or shares too generously, you may need to seek out professional help.
Money is a sensitive topic for most of us and while there is no distinct right and wrong when it comes to finances, it’s a good idea to regularly discuss them with your significant other to avoid fights down the road.
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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.