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5 Tips to Stop Arguing about Money

Have a happier, more secure relationship.

 

Cut your spending by $6,000 without giving up the fun and without a complicated budget.

Break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle, find the money to pay back your loans and finally build your savings.

by Rob Bertman, CFA, CFP® in Relationship & Money
May 8, 2018

 

Money is the #1 source of stress & arguments in relationships according to the American Psychological Association and countless accredited polls. Think about everything that people could stress about. Out of all that, MONEY is THE TOP reason couples argue.

Think about your relationship for a moment.

How often does a money argument sabotage a perfectly wonderful moment? Can you fully enjoy going out to dinner & drinks or taking a fun trip without money stress getting in the way?

Does it make your blood boil when you get an unexpected Amazon box, see the latest gadget or new clothes that your significant other ordered. You know they’re excited but you are fuming. How does that impact your interaction next time you talk to them? Does it make you want to hear about their day? How do they feel when you squash their excitement?

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If you handle money separately, how tiring is it to put on a good front for your significant other when you feel like you’re drowning? Especially if they don’t fully know your situation.

How would your relationship transform if these money stressors were gone?

Why do couples argue about money?

The polls would tell you that spending and debt are the top reasons, but I have a different take.

It’s actually because 73% of people have different money management mindsets & habits than their partner.

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It’s the classic “spender marries saver” dilemma. The “don’t worry it’s only money” person marries the “money = security” person. This balance can actually help keep the relationship fun as long as they use their complementary strengths for good.

Think about the “planner” who marries the “seize the day” partner. One person plans ahead and does research for the vacation so they stay in a great location and make sure they hit all the good spots. The other’s spontaneity throws some welcomed change and unexpected fun. These moments end up being the stories you tell your friends about. In the end, it’s a memorable vacation with many highlights thanks to using both of their strengths.

But with money, people tend to dig in their heels and never try to understand their significant other’s mindset and how it can benefit their relationship.

Conventional thinking would tell us that only the “spender” can learn from the “saver”. But guess what…the “saver” can also learn from the “spender”. Until the couple comes from a place of understanding rather than opposition, the cycle of stress and arguing will continue.

Traditional Money Advice Favors The Saver = The Relationship Loses

The way we’re taught to go about handling money supports the saver, and they dangle this traditional advice over their spending partner’s head.

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The saver thinks they have won, but the result is often the opposite.

The spender either withdraws from all financial discussions or spends even more in spite of the saver, sometimes even secretly.  

I’ve heard stories of spenders buying Nordstrom & Amazon gift cards at Walmart.  The saver thinks they’re spending money on necessities, but the reality is their spouse is hiding purchases out of guilt, resentment, or defiance.

Look, it doesn’t have to be that drastic, but at best, traditional advice leads to one person in the wrong and one person in the right. That is terrible for the relationship.

How to End Money Fights & Cut Your Spending Without Missing It

There is a way to get on the same page even if you don’t see eye to eye about money and end the stress in your relationship around money.

 

  1. Avoid talking about what you disagree on…for now

“So Rob, you want us to run away from the problem?” Well, yes…temporarily.

Here’s the deal. Find the things you agree on first. What common things do you like to do together? Is it date night a vacation? What are your shared family goals? Want to buy a new house, build a family?

Let’s focus on the things you both agree on to prime the pump for a productive conversation.

 

  1. Have a conversation about your money pasts.

What experiences have shaped how you view money today?

Were your parents open when talking about money or did they avoid it? Ever see your parents argue over money? Did you get everything you ever asked for? Did you have to work as a kid to make ends meet?

Narrow it down to one definitive event and share it with your partner. Ask them to do the same.  Even if you have done this before, do it again to refresh your memory and that of your partner.

 

  1. Talk about where you’d like to KEEP spending:

I look at spending in 3 categories for couples:

  • For me – I enjoy it
  • For you – They enjoy it (even if I don’t understand why).
  • For us – We enjoy it together.

Take 2 minutes and list the things you enjoy spending money on. Think about it like this, “When I look at my bank or credit card statement, these things actually bring a smile to my face.”

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Share it with your partner and reserve judgement. The things they list as KEEPS give them the same satisfaction and fulfillment that you get from your KEEPs even though you have no idea why it does.

 

  1. Where do you agree to CUT BACK your spending as a couple?

You probably have a bunch of things you enjoy doing. This is not about giving it up entirely.  It’s about getting the same experience for less money.

For example, most people think that saving money means cutting things out cold turkey. Go from going out to lunch 5 days a week to brown bagging it 100% of the time.  That kind of change is unsustainable, but maybe they could go out 4 instead of 5 while preserving the experience.

It’s little things like ordering 2 drinks instead of 3. Picking an appetizer or dessert but not both. Seeing two great options for dinner and choosing the less expensive option.

Parking for an event and choosing the $15 parking lot instead of the $20 parking lot.

Getting your haircut every 6 weeks instead of 5.

You’re not giving up the experience, just making some easy choices that will save you money without noticing it.

 

  1. What do you want to ELIMINATE spending money on?

We all have things we spend money on out of habit. Perhaps it’s an automated subscription, 3 streaming services, 2 gym memberships.

Eliminating one of them won’t materially impact your life. In fact, maybe you’re not even using it!

What about late fees and interest charges from carrying credit card debt over the month when you don’t have to? Get rid of it!

Remember, these are things that the two of you AGREE on.  If you disagree, leave it for now and focus on the commonalities.

You can argue less about money and save at the same time

There is a clear path to stop arguing about money so that the saver can see more money being saved and the spender can keep spending on the most important things to them without feeling guilty.

Since traditional budgeting advice is one-sided, I’ve developed the Keep, Cut Back, Eliminate budgeting technique that has helped the average couple cut their spending by 11% without the arguments and without feeling like they’re missing out.

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Often it takes a 3rd party to help couples navigate this process, and I’m here to help.

I don’t manage money and don’t sell investment or insurance products. My sole purpose is to help couples get on the same page with money so they can save more, argue less, and keep the fun.

Reach out to me here to get in touch and let me know how I can help. It starts with a complimentary 30 minute discovery session so we can get to know each other and figure out if I can help out.

Schedule your zero cost 30 minute consult here.

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Cut your spending by $6,000 without giving up the fun and without a complicated budget.

Break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle, find the money to pay back your loans and finally build your savings.