by Damona Hoffman
You should have a household budget that you and your spouse create together at least once a year or when your financial situation changes.
Here’s how to keep your love strong through these tough economic times.
As a dating strategist, the first thing I always tell my clients before entering into a new relationship is to make sure that you share the same values with your partner. One value that often gets overlooked is your attitude towards money. In this economy, we’re seeing the divorce rate level off for the first time in decades, but many speculate that it’s not because we’re in healthier marriages — we’re staying together because we cannot afford to split up. Money is often the number one reason that couples argue, so here are some tips to keep your relationship strong (even if your bank account is not).
1. Do not keep any “secret” funds. A lot of times I hear couples say, “I have a personal account that I keep just in case.” Secret accounts just lead to secrets in the relationship. If you have accounts in your own name and insist on keeping them, make sure your partner knows where the money is, how to access it, and how much is there. If you worry that they might take it from you, you might not be in the right relationship. Wealth Management consultant Christopher Dukes who surveyed couples on their feelings about shared finances found that the overwhelming majority cited financial infidelity (hiding money) as more injurious to the relationship than sexual infidelity.
2. Be brutally honest about your spending habits. Some people are more frugal than others. If you have a secret passion for shoe shopping that you are trying to hide from your husband or that he finds out about only when investigating the credit card bill, you are damaging your relationship. Many couples set a threshold amount over which they call one another for approval before purchasing. Not only does it keep you honest, but it makes you have to ask yourself if you really need that item.
3. Draft a current budget. You should have a household budget that you and your spouse create together at least once a year or when your financial situation changes. It’s surprising how many people have no idea how much money they need to live each month. That’s like driving your car around without being able to tell the level of your gas tank. Don’t get stranded, know what you and your spouse are spending.
4. Clarify money matters with your children. Kids can smell weakness, so if they know that their father will always say no to a toy or extra $5, they will game the system and get it from their mother. Letting your kids play you against one another is not only dangerous for your relationship but also to your children’s own feelings about finance down the road. Try an app like iAllowance which lets your kid track the money they have coming in and going out or start them with a simple piggy bank. Finance management is one of the most important things for you to teach your kids and it’s important that you and your spouse are teaching from the same lesson plan.
5. Try cost-cutting projects. If you and your partner are the competitive types, make saving money a game. At the beginning of the week, bet on who can cut the most from their own workday lunches, clothing budget, or grooming expenditures. The person who saves the most by Friday gets the dishes done by their partner for a week or earns their bonus in another creative way. See who can be the most innovative with their money-saving pledge. Cutting financial corners is never fun, but if you turn it into a little friendly competition, you can both win.
Even though there is no direct correlation between having money and being happy, there are many issues that can be avoided or addressed with additional funds so saving your money just might also save your marriage.
Read this article in Your Tango
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