Maybe you’ve been here, love birds? It’s the end of a long day and someone starts an unplanned discussion about money. Maybe it’s about spending money “you spent what on what?”, overburdening feelings of debt, not being able to pay bills on-time , or where to get the money to meet an upcoming expense.
No matter the subject, timing isn’t so great for either spouse and it usually spirals into pointing fingers or hateful words which after repetition can cause problems in your relationship.
I’ve witnessed some tension in relationships brought on by financial stress in Money Map Coaching sessions. And my spouse and I, like most people, have had our share of heated discussions about money. It happens. Money is something we have to manage for everyday life and we’re going to face challenges sooner or later.
There are two common challenges often surfaced in Money Map Coaching sessions.
- One spouse doesn’t know anything about where the money is going, what bills are due and how much he or she has available to spend on themselves.
- One spouse is in disagreement on how on much the other spouse spends on entertainment or fun money.
How do you ease tensions caused by these two challenges?
- It’s all about communication. Have a weekly discussion about money and where it’s going.
- Create a monthly spending plan and determine how much each spouse can spend for play money or entertainment. It’s almost like an allowance. If both spouses know how much each has to spend there is little room for argument unless someone isn’t following the plan.
Recently, an article in Money magazine pointed out the importance of finding common ground.
The point of these conversations is not differences, but common goals. So less “You spent $300 on golf shoes!” and more “How can we save $300 more a month for retirement?” (Assigning blame only creates tension.)
Another tip discusses focusing on goals versus emotions. Letting emotions enter into the discussion can throw things off course quickly.
Tame the emotions by focusing on the facts: Name the goals, then brainstorm ways to accomplish them.
Remember, as a couple, you’re goal is to work together. No one said it would be easy and everyday life can certainly produce tests and trials. I like how this article talks about taking what can be a blame game and turning it around into a positive goal oriented discussion without involving the emotion.
What do you think are common sources for arguments about money. How can they be avoided?