Why Itís Never Too Late To Have The Financial Conversation Being financially compatible can be a great advantage to marriage. Make sure to talk about your finances and create a plan for tackling any financial conflict. BY SANDRA BERNARDO
Money issues can come and go, but you should work to always be on the same page.
“ An astounding 53 percent said they werenít financially compatible with their spouseósomething they didnít consider before getting married.”
When you first started dating your spouse-to-be, you most likely focused on things like similar interests, a sense of humor, shared values and other signs of compatibility. Unfortunately, what many people donít take into consideration is financial compatibility, and how their partnerís financial habits may differ from their own. A significant source of frustration and stress, financial conflict may damage even the strongest relationshipóand 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 werenít financially compatible with their spouseósomething they didnít consider before getting married. In fact, most of the people surveyed say they regret not learning more about their spouseís financial habits, with 71 percent of women and 60 percent of men saying their spouseís spending habits were different than they had anticipated.
Surprisingly, many couples donít 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, itís important to have money discussions regularly throughout your marriage, starting now.
Here are some tips to making sure youíre both on the same page, financially.
1. 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 youíre both not headed in the same direction financially.
2. 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 donít 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.
3. Set specific financial goals. Itís hard to save when you donít really know what youíre saving for. Set specific goals, such as saving for a house, taking a big vacation, or going somewhere special for your anniversary. 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.
4. 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 youíre both doing great.
5. 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.
Sandra A. Bernardo is manager of Public Relations and Consumer Education at Experian Consumer Services, a division of Experian, the nationís largest credit bureau. In her role, she manages publicity efforts and outreach campaigns to generate awareness and understanding about credit.† Prior to Experian, she has held positions in the corporate and agency sectors in public and community relations.