Financial Experts Give Advice For Couples Struggling With Money
You promised to love, honor and cherish each other for the rest of your lives – but that was before the latest credit card statement came to your email inbox. Now you aren’t sure what you could have been thinking, tying yourself down to such a financial mess of a person.
Does this sound familiar? The nonprofit credit counseling agency Take Charge America would bet that it does. The company sees many couples who have trouble talking about money, and who perhaps have never talked much about it at all. Citing a recent Citibank survey that showed 57% of divorced couples broke up over financial issues, they’re offering advice to lovebirds who hope to stay the course and not end up throwing it all away over a difference in bank account statements.
Mike Sullivan, a personal finance consultant with Take Charge America, says many people jump into relationships without first talking about financial issues. “It’s not particularly fun or romantic, but open and honest communication about finances will go a long way in fostering a happy, healthy relationship,” says Sullivan.
Here are some of the company’s tips for couples navigating the murky waters of love and finance:
• Be honest. Having an open conversation about finances is never easy, but it’s vital to a healthy relationship. Neither partner should be hiding purchases, keeping secret credit cards, or covering up debt.
• Share your financial values with each other. Talk about the way you were raised and the financial philosophies you subscribe to. If one of you is a spender and the other is a saver, you’ll need to come to agreement about ground rules for spending in the marriage.
• Together or separate? Agree on how you’ll handle your accounts. Some couples keep separate bank accounts, while others put everything together and share both the expenses and the income generated by the household. Neither way is right or wrong, but you’ll want to talk this over beforehand so you know what to expect.
• Make a budget, and play to pay off debt. It’s important to have a monthly budget for things like groceries, clothes, dining out, gas, utilities, and other essentials. Sit down together and create a budget that works for both of you.
With these tips in mind, and assuming you also put them into practice, your marriage will have better odds of lasting than most. Don’t let money spell the end of your happily-ever-after.