When it comes to choosing a spouse many people focus on finding someone with similar interests, a sense of humor, shared values and other signs of compatibility. Unfortunately what many people don’t take into consideration is financial compatibility, and how their partner’s financial habits may differ from their own. A significant source of frustration and stress, financial conflict may damage even the strongest relationship – and can often be a major contributing factor when it comes to divorce.
In fact, a recent study from Experian found that 20 percent of divorced people felt finances played a big role in their reasons for divorcing, with 59 percent feeling it played at least somewhat of a role. An astounding 53 percent said they weren’t financially compatible with their spouse – something they didn’t consider before getting married. In fact, most of the people surveyed say they regret not learning more about their spouse’s financial habits, with 71 percent of women and 60 percent of men saying their spouse’s spending habits were different than they had anticipated.
Surprisingly, many couples don’t openly discuss their finances with one another before marriage, which can cause many issues down the road. Since money is one of the largest sources of conflict in a relationship, it’s important to have money discussions regularly throughout your marriage, as well as before tying the knot.
Here are some tips for engaged or soon-to-be engaged couples, when it comes to making sure you’re both on the same page, financially.
- Have an open and honest discussion
Simply discussing money honestly will open the door to working together financially. Your spouse needs to understand your financial goals, spending habits, and any financial ‘flaws’ you may have. Suddenly discovering these goals or traits could lead to serious arguments, especially if you’re both not headed in the same direction financially.
- Be willing to compromise
You must understand that everyone handles money differently. Something you would never spend money on is perhaps something your spouse constantly buys, or maybe you both put different values on financial goals. Understand that your spouse may not see money the same way as you do, and don’t push your views or feelings towards money on your spouse. Instead, find ways that you both can compromise on key differences, and find a happy medium that will leave you both satisfied.
- Set specific financial goals
It’s hard to save when you don’t really know what you’re saving for. Set specific goals, such as saving for a house, taking a big vacation, or going somewhere special for the honeymoon. Working towards a common goal together can help you align financially, especially when it comes to spending and trying to decide where to cut back.
- Initiate ‘Finance Fridays’
Finance Fridays are a great way for couples to stay on the same page and track progress. Set aside time at least once a month to check bank accounts, credit cards, and credit scores, along with goal progress. Knowing where you both are financially can help ease stress, and can also be a source of pride when you’re both doing great.
- Education is key
Not understanding how finances work can greatly hurt your chances of financial success, so make sure you are both educated on the basics of finance. Couples should work together to become better at credit and finances, and learning together can help you bond while also reducing financial stress.
When it comes to relationships, being financially compatible can be a great advantage. So, before talking about I do, make sure to talk about your finances and create a plan for tackling any financial conflict.