How to Manage Differences in Spending Habits 

It’s a common scenario seen in marriage counselor offices across the country: differences in spending habits. One partner saves and the other spends. Disagreements over money can cause stress, conflict, tension, and a negative home environment. Furthermore, in the United States, finances are also a major cause of divorce.  So how do you protect your relationship from becoming another statistic?

First, communication is key. Couples who argue over money are often arguing over deeper issues such as control, freedom, and self worth. In this regard, it is important to address two things: your financial goals as a couple, as well as the underlying causes of the disagreements.  Write down your financial goals (i.e. buying a house, investing “x” amount in the market, etc), and discuss both sides of the argument in a calm and positive way.

Next, agree to an acceptable spending limit and set a budget. If one of you wants to buy something that is over that set amount, you have to consult the other first. Having a budget also helps keep you accountable to each other and also to yourself.

Third, don’t have secrets. The word “secret” in a marriage is another word for “lie”. Successful relationships don’t have many secrets (unless you are coming up with a surprise birthday gift, for example). Don’t go on a shopping spree and then attempt to hide the receipts and merchandise from your partner! That is just asking for trouble

Finally, seek help.  Having a third party such as a financial advisor assist in your financial planning may ease tensions and limit stress. Additionally, confiding in a counselor will help you learn these valuable communication skills, as well as explore those underlying issues.

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