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Couples and Money: How to Have a Healthy Relationship

The following post is from Christina of Northern Cheapskate:

holding hands
source: QuinnDombrowski

One of the biggest sources of stress in a relationship is money.  From how it’s spent to how much is saved, hundreds of decisions must be made.  And when you have two people trying to make the decisions together, finding workable solutions is even more challenging.

I know this better than anyone.  I am a saver.  My husband comes from a long line of spenders.  We’ve definitely had some interesting discussions in our 12 years of marriage, but as we get to know each other, we’ve started to forge a healthy relationship with our money.   It wasn’t easy for us to reach common ground, but now that we have, it has strengthened our love for each other and our commitment to our family.

I’ve learned it is possible to develop a healthy money relationship with your spouse by taking these steps:

Be honest.

If you don’t have trust, you don’t have anything.  So start with being honest with each other in every aspect of your lives.  That means not hiding the shopping bags from your trip to the mall, lying about how much you paid for something, or ignoring major money issues (like debt).  This is the most painful part of developing a healthy relationship with money, but it is also the most rewarding.

Accept each other “as-is.”

A person will not change simply because you want them to.  You cannot control what another person does or thinks.  You can only control how you react to those things.   The sooner you can accept your significant other for who he or she is, the easier it will be for you to work together.   My husband likes an occasional splurge.  I am much more conservative.  Our compromise is to budget in the splurge.  I get a sense of security that I need, and my husband gets the rush of being able to spend.  We have learned to respect each other’s needs when it comes to handling our finances.

Get on the same page.

Set goals for your money together and you’ll find that you fight about money much less.  Set goals for getting out of debt and layout action steps to make it happen.  Establish plans for saving and investing.  And most of all, dream together about what you want your financial future to look like.  You will always be at odds with each other if you can’t agree on what you want for your family.

Talk often.

None of the steps I’ve mentioned work if you don’t talk to your partner.  Talk, talk, talk, and then talk about your money some more.  My husband and I set up regular meetings or “money dates” to discuss our financial situation and set goals.  We cover everything from how much we spent on groceries to where money is leaking out of our budget to whether we should refinance our mortgage. These money meetings were important for us to do because I was getting overwhelmed by being our chief family financial officer.

By having these regular meetings, I was able to share some of the burdens of running the household finances.  And my husband appreciated being more engaged in the process.  There are things every couple should know about their finances and talking about them helps you grow comfortable with the topic of money.

Make sure your partner is truly your partner in every aspect of your life and you will start to form a healthy relationship with money.

How do you and your significant other handle your finances?

Christina Brown is the creator of Northern Cheapskate, a blog dedicated to frugal living through coupons, freebies, and money-saving ideas. She lives in the rural north woods of Minnesota where she clips coupons, pinches pennies, and chases her three boys (a 7-year-old and twin 5-year olds) as a stay-at-home mom.