This Valentine's Day, First Profess Your Love, Then Talk Money
By Jonathan Clements, Director of Financial Education, Citi Personal Wealth Management February 11, 2013 11:45 AM
On February 14, you might agree to spend the rest of your life together. But will you agree about money? This, of course, is hardly the most romantic notion. But it could be crucial to your marriage's success.
A Utah State University study found that couples who reported disagreeing about money once a week were roughly 30% more likely to get divorced than couples who said they disagreed just a few times per month. How can you reduce the likelihood that you'll fight frequently about money? Try these three steps:
- Discuss your parents. Many of us adopt our parents' financial habits and assume their way is the right way. But your spouse or future spouse will likely have other ideas. By talking through your money beliefs, you may not come to an agreement--but at least you'll better understand why you disagree.
- Reveal all. If you have hefty student loans, you struggle to control your spending or you have particular financial hang-ups, your spouse or partner will find out eventually, so it's much better to be upfront about these issues. Indeed, by being honest, you will likely strengthen your relationship--and together you can tackle the problems involved.
- Agree on goals. Many couples try to avoid conflict by turning a blind eye to each other's spending. But that could be a recipe for financial trouble and you may fail to save enough for retirement and other longer-term plans. What to do? Take the time to agree on your goals. Try to make them as specific as possible, such as wanting to buy a four-bedroom home within five years, to pay for the kids' entire college costs or to retire to South Carolina by age 60. If you have goals that you're both fully committed to, you should be more willing to work together to make the necessary short-term financial sacrifices.
Source: The divorce-and-money study was conducted by Utah State University professor Jeffrey Dew and cited by NYTimes.com (Dec. 7, 2009).
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