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Managing Money with Your Spouse

Getting Control of Money Issues Can Lead to a Stronger Relationship

For many couples, dealing with finances can be a source of friction and stress, especially in unsure economic conditions. But avoiding money discussions just to maintain the peace isn't wise in the long run. Instead, use these tips to find solutions to money issues and maintain family harmony.

Look in the Mirror

Our ideas about money may be completely different from your partner's. What you call being frugal, he or she might call being cheap, while what you consider an absolute necessity could seem like a luxury to your partner. Examine your own attitude toward money and how it developed. Ask yourself: How did your parents handle money? Are you a saver or a spender? Do you like to be in control of the finances or want your spouse to handle the details? Understanding and sharing your own feelings toward money may help your spouse feel more comfortable about sharing theirs as well.

Keep Cool as Cash

If money is a hot topic, take emotion out of play by planning ahead. Pick a quiet time and location for your talks and agree to limit the discussion to money matters. Create an agenda outlining common financial goals and concerns and set ground rules for dealing with areas of disagreement. If emotions heat up, take a break until everyone calms down. Choose a time and place for your next meeting and agree to make it a priority. Then give yourselves a special reward to celebrate.

Working Together

Find ways to share the load if primarily one person handles the finances. Work together on a budget and savings plan by creating a list of your income and expenses. Seeing where the family funds are spent can enlighten the impulse spender and ease the penny-pincher's worries. Take turns being responsible for bill paying so that you both get a better feel for cash flow. Most importantly, talk about big goals, like saving for a home or a college education. Keeping an eye on the big picture can make little money decisions seem easier.

Keep the "I" in Finances

Some families find that establishing joint accounts for family expenses and savings while maintaining individual accounts for personal use can minimize money conflicts. Contribute equally to the joint accounts but leave some funds available for personal spending or saving that can be spent without discussion or explanation. This lessens control conflicts and eliminates disagreements about minor indulgences.

The Best Time for the Money Talk

The adage "love is blind" includes finances, too. Before you take a trip down the aisle, have the money discussion. Ordering both of your credit reports for free at is a great way to show your trust and open a deeper discussion about your attitudes toward money, your financial goals, and your future as a couple.

Getting Help

Not many people receive a strong financial education from their parents or in school. Fortunately, there are many fine nonprofit organizations dedicated to educating the public on financial issues. Find a local agency, check their references, and make an appointment with a debt or credit counselor to learn more about money management or to get help getting out of debt.

Another resource to help you plan your financial future is UNIFY, a not-for-profit financial institution who has every member-owner's best interest in mind. Above all, remember that working together is the best way to reach your goals and conquer your financial challenges.

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