Q: HOW do we avoid financial disagreements in our relationship? I have already picked up that we have very different spending habits and I know that this is going to be a source of frustration for me. I am strict and disciplined, and he is pretty much an impulsive, anything goes kind of guy. Can we possibly make this work? – FRUSTRATED
A: FINANCES can be a very serious source of conflict between couples, so you really need to get that discussion out on the table as quickly as possible. Financial compatibility doesn’t necessarily mean having the same spending habits. It could also mean the ability to work out your differences amicably and make the best of the situation. It also means that one of you needs to learn to be teachable and to compromise. These are some of the major causes of financial conflict in a relationship;
? HIDING DEBT OR POOR SPENDING HABITS
If you truly want to trust someone, and have them trust you, then you need to be open and transparent with them about most things. If you are starting a new relationship, you don’t need to go into great detail about your debt or spending habits (and you might scare away your potential partner if you do). However, once you are in a committed relationship that you see lasting for a long time, it’s important to discuss where you are financially, particularly if you plan to move in together or eventually get married. Not only can lying about your debt or spending habits – or simply failing to tell your partner about them – potentially cause a lack of trust, but if you wait too long, you may later find that you and your partner are on completely different paths as far as finances go. This can be devastating to a relationship. Money issues can cause feelings of shame, fear and isolation.
? HARMING YOUR PARTNER’S CREDIT OR SAVINGS
While most people who truly care about another person would never intentionally destroy the creditworthiness of their partner, this can happen if you fail to pay bills or keep up your part of a financial agreement. Often couples purchase a home, a car, or they make other purchases together under the assumption that both people will pay for the item. If you or your partner fails to pay your share and an account becomes listed as a slow payer, this can ruin your partner’s creditworthiness in addition to your relationship. Another way to quickly kill a relationship is to eat away at your partner’s savings account or to take money without asking them first.
? NOT DISCUSSING PURCHASES BEFOREHAND
Once you begin to share or pool your money together in a joint account, it is important that you lay out ground rules. You need to determine at what price you are going to talk to each other about a purchase, and when it’s acceptable to just spend money as you see fit. It’s best to come up with these rules as early as possible, because otherwise you risk having a big argument if one person purchases something with joint money without asking. The line becomes a little less clear if you are in a committed relationship, but you are not pooling your money together. Still, if you have agreed for just how separate that money really is. Otherwise, you risk someone feeling resentful or angry.
? NOT FIGURING OUT THE DETAILS
Whether you are dating, married, or just starting to know each other, it’s important to figure out who will pay for things and when. Men are not necessarily in charge of every restaurant bill anymore. If possible, figure out who is paying ahead of time when you go on a date, or split the bill. If you are living with him or married, sit down and figure out who is going to pay for which bills (if your money is still separate), or when bills will get paid and who is going to keep track of them (if you are married or have joint finances).
? BEING TOO CONTROLLING
No one wants to be in a controlling relationship, and if you or your partner regularly shows financially controlling behaviours, this can be a red flag for the other person. Money decisions should be made together, and if you or your partner gets angry or upset when the other person tries to have a say in a discussion, this can come across as controlling. It can also damage a relationship if one person demands to keep track of all of the money and won’t let the other person make any decisions. Another financially controlling behaviour is to criticise your partner’s decisions, or to accuse them of being too frugal or too loose with money in a demeaning way and with no intention of trying to make the situation better. to save for a holiday or a home together, but then you go out and buy a car, it’s likely that your partner will be upset. So even if you are still keeping your money separate, you should have a plan