Spousal Financial Feuds

Solving Financial Problems with your Partner Peacefully

Dan Crimmins
Financial Adviser in Woodcliff Lake, NJ

Financial Planning Investing & Retiring

Spousal Financial Feuds
February 11, 2016

Will you fight with your spouse over money? I’m afraid so. The trick is to get the battles over quickly so you can kiss and make up. Yet, studies have established that money-related matters are among the most common causes for divorce.

How do you prevent that from happening to you as well? Or rather, how do you and your spouse avoid all sorts of financial mistakes that can ruin your happily married life?

If you go by the words of Mary Claire Allvine, certified financial planner (CFP) and the co-author of “The Family CFO: The Couple’s Business Plan for Love and Money”, then most couples like you don't know the right way to resolve a bad deed. Many people become emotional and reactive when it comes to money matters, but unfortunately, they fail to rise to the occasion strategically.

Actually, your vulnerability to commit financial blunders will increase if you get too emotional. Therefore, according to the experts’ advice, your approach towards your family finances should be the way you would treat your business. Interestingly, you will discover how methodical you have become as a result of following this trick in managing your personal finances and keeping your spouse in tow.

How to solve financial problems with your spouse

Here are a number of steps for you to resolve your financial problems with your spouse, or prevent them from happening in the first place:

  1. Be transparent with money matters - A leading cause of divorce is lack of trust and communication between partners. As far as money is concerned, be open, honest, and respectful to build trust and prevent deceit from happening. Remember, you should treat your family finances like your business. So, in business, if someone siphons off thousands of dollars from the company's coffers, that amounts to embezzlement. Similarly, if you or your spouse is keeping money secrets, then you should at once seek the help of a certified family finance professional.

    It is a norm amongst couples to lie about money at one time or another. The problem may not be as serious as you believe, but everything rests on how you deal with such situations. It is wrong to consider that keeping certain financial matters secret won’t hurt your spouse and damage your marriage.

  2. Plan for emergencies - The course of your life might have been smooth up to this point. You make a decent living, have a flourishing career, and no debt obligations to worry about, but one day you could find yourself devastated if you have not made provision for the rainy days ahead. For instance, a sudden pink slip, a car accident or an illness may put your financial health in ruins, unless you are cushioned by an emergency fund.

    The pressures you and your partner face as individuals will put a strain on your marriage and increase the stress you confront as a couple. Reflexive reactions to sudden crises may lead you to make bad decisions, so it is wise to have a substantial emergency fund to give you security and cushion any sudden blows. Ideally, you should have at least three to six months’ worth of your basic living costs saved in a secured place like money market funds. This will give you confidence in the knowledge that you can provide for your family, even in times of difficulty.

  3. Make wise investments - According to SmartMoney’s survey, men are more enterprising (risk-taking) than women, with 62% of men being willing to take risks while investing, compared to only 19% of women. However, quarrelling over the amount of risks to include in your portfolio would be futile. Instead, it is best to sit down and have a candid chat over these contentious issues. Make your investment goals and timeframes clear during those discussions. For example, you might be risk-averse when it comes to money that you know you will need in the near future. On the other hand, you might prefer to take on excessive risks with the money you are contributing towards your retirement plans.

    If you and your spouse struggle to reach an agreement, then you may consult a financial planner or an investment broker. It is never advisable to accuse your spouse of a financial disaster. In a crisis, always avoid playing the blame game. Moreover, do not ask your spouse to keep his or her hands off your retirement funds. On the contrary, you should determine a mutually agreeable timeframe and find the level of risk that is acceptable to both of you.

In addition to the above steps, make it a point to keep all of your monthly expenditures under control. Here, you should not say that you are the only person in the family who cares to save money and accuse your spouse of splurging. This would alienate your better half and keep him or her from participating in the decision-making process with good faith. Always treat each other as equals when it comes to spending and agree on a budget to prevent overspending.

Will there be monetary disagreements and squabbles? Doubtlessly. But the damage should be minimized before divorce rears its ugly head.

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Photo ©iStockphoto.com/katkov

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