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The topic of money is often a huge stressor in many relationships. A 2018 survey by Ramsey Solutions found that disagreements over money are the second leading cause of divorce.

With average household debt on the rise and more pressure to “keep up with the Joneses,” many Americans feel more anxiety than ever over their finances. This anxiety can quickly seep into their relationships, and left unchecked, can cause deep and lasting fractures.Rather than allowing money issues to fester and mess up your relationship, take action with these three tips to keep open lines of communication with your partner.

 

Money Talks

Communicate openly with your partner about your expectations for how money should be managed. Be honest about your preferences for spending and saving, and ask them to share their own expectations. Recognize that your partner may have a very different approach than you to managing money, and work to find common goals that you can both support. To keep money issues from festering, make a plan to sit down together at least once a month to evaluate your finances and monitor your progress.

 

Reduce Debt

The Ramsey Solutions survey also found that 47% of those with debt felt stress and anxiety over their finances. Work with your partner to make a plan to reduce stress by reducing your debt load. If you have several credit cards or loans that need to be paid off, choose one to focus on first. This might be the loan with the largest remaining balance or the card with the highest interest rate. Throw any extra funds that you have available each month at that one debt until it is paid off in full. Then move to the next largest balance or highest rate. As you gain momentum and see progress by working together, you and your partner can turn the debt stressor into a rallying force in your relationship.

 

Dream Big

Once you’ve communicated your expectations for money management with each other and formed a debt reduction plan, look ahead to the future. Discuss your long-term goals and dreams with your partner and think about how your finances play a role in achieving them. If you’ve always imagined retiring at a young age and enjoying a life of travel, sit down together to figure up how much money you’ll need in savings and retirement to make that happen.

Eighty-seven percent of respondents in the Ramsey Solutions study who reported having a “great” marriage also said that setting long-term monetary goals was something that they did with their partner. In finding a big dream (or two…or three) that you both agree on, you can envision your life together long into the future.

 

With all money conversations, keeping an open mind and a spirit of compromise can go a long way in ensuring open and productive lines of communication.