Health Advocate Blog

Conflict-free money talks for couples

Financial discussions are the most common source of disagreement for couples, studies show. These conversations can be particularly stressful in a time of economic uncertainty, job loss and other disruptive events. Try these suggestions for healthier financial discussions, no matter what your circumstances.

Set a time to talk when you’re calm and not distracted. Make sure the kids are occupied, and there are not urgent chores to attend to. Turn off your TV, phones and other devices.

Start with an understanding of each other’s beliefs about money. Conflicts may be avoided by knowing what financial goals you each have, your fears about money, and what you were taught about money. For example, did you come from a family of strict savers while your partner came from a family of freewheeling spenders?

Make tracking your money a joint effort. Both separately and together, you should each track your spending against your budget. Check out your bank and credit card online features to easily see the breakdown of expenses. This helps avoids surprises!

Schedule your money talk as a regular monthly occurrence. During your session, sum it up and decide on the next steps. Schedule something fun for after the meeting, like playing a game.

Stick to the subject of finances. Don’t bring in other contentious subjects. If you do wind up butting heads, take a breather or agree to set another time for your money talk—and stick with it.

Aim for a middle ground. If you can’t see eye-to-eye on the subject of whether to splurge on a pricey trip or to sock away savings, for instance, can you opt for a low-budget scenic camping trip instead?

Be ready to pivot. An income change may mean putting off that home addition or buying a new car until you’ve paid down some bills.

Consider enlisting help from a financial advisor. Hire a certified, fee-only advisor to review your budget for what works now as well as to help you make a plan for the future. An advisor can go over what you’re spending on insurance and compare better options, what credit cards may be best for you, and what you might need to figure in such as wills or trusts. Another plus: an advisor can make sure you clearly understand what is being discussed.