Rows: Avoid confrontation with your spouse by setting out your finances and priorities early on in marriage. *iStock photo
Rows: Avoid confrontation with your spouse by setting out your finances and priorities early on in marriage. *iStock photo

Do you argue with your partner about money? 

Studies done by relationship experts have revealed that seven in 10 couples believe financial problems and a lack of communication about finances push couples apart.

Studies also show that more than half of us cite financial frustration as the most common reason for a breakdown in a relationship.

Often, relationships are put under strain because partners do not talk about what they want to achieve with their money, or they fail to understand where the money goes.

Honesty

Any couple who make a commitment to a relationship need to have honest discussions around finances.

They need to establish expectations in matters such as having a family, enjoying regular holidays, buying cars and carrying out necessary home renovations. 

New couples especially need to be open and forthright about their individual viewpoint on living together — from making a decision on whether to rent or buy, to purchasing new furniture together or simply establishing a regular savings pattern.

Debt can be a deal-breaker for relationships, so be clear right from the start about managing your debt, especially credit card debt.

Also discuss how long you are both comfortable with having a mortgage and whether you both intend to make it a priority to pay it off sooner.

Investing the time to organise your finances and set realistic expectations and financial goals for the short and long-term should help to reduce the associated stress.

Couples need to be proactive when it comes to money matters.

As a couple, you should both have an idea of how financially stable you are. 

In order to become successful at living together, both of you should agree on most of the decisions, particularly those regarding money management.

Top tips

  • Establish honesty: Who is the spender and who is the saver?
  • Establish roles: Who will do the day-to-day banking and who will do the investment? 
  • Establish communication: If you are having trouble with your role, talk about it.
  • Establish reviews: How often are you going to sit down as a couple and review your finances?
  • Establish timelines: What are your goals and when would you like to accomplish them?

Planning together is much more effective than only one of you handling the finances. 

The whole family will benefit from the effective strategies that you both develop. Remember — you’re a team.

Working with a professional to help you review and formalize a wealth approach could be a key element to achieving results.

Specifically, look at working with a financial planner who can create a financial plan with you.

Financial planning is a process of estimating current and future financial needs, and making plans to achieve them.

It is important that you stay in control of your monthly obligations and what you anticipate to be large financial outlays in the future. A financial plan can help with that.

Financial planning covers a wide range of important topics including budgeting, expenses, debts, savings, retirement planning and insurance, and how each of these areas are inter-related.

Sensitivity

Merging your finances is like a company merger that brings two big players together to form one larger organization. 

However, merging the finances of a couple involves a lot more emotional baggage and therefore needs a little more sensitivity.

In any relationship you are going to have the spender and the saver.

You are always going to have one partner placing more importance on a financial decision than the other, but that’s what makes life interesting.

There really is no right or wrong when it comes to merging finances. The most important element is communication.

Carla Seely is a senior wealth manager at AFL Investments. Contact her at 294-5712 or cseely@aflinvestments.bm.

Fairytale Weddings January 2012