Did you know that disagreements around finances can raise your risk of divorce? It’s not unsurprising when you think about it — and you may even have personal experience with this fact if you’ve seen friends or family members struggle to work in financial harmony with their spouses.
Fights over finances can stem from a number of causes, including disagreements over goals and priorities and feelings over anger and resentment over who makes more.
Here’s the good news: arguing over money doesn’t need to be the norm in your relationship. You can reduce anxiety, fear, and other negative emotions over your household finances by taking action to become a financially savvy couple who feels confident and excited about the future.
And most importantly, you can feel financially in tune with your partner so that money fights don’t happen in your house. Start with these 7 money moves that all financially savvy couples make:
Keep Records and Document Your Finances
Couples who are financially savvy understand the importance of staying organized. This can help with everything from small, everyday situations to your big annual trip to your accountant’s office to file taxes.
When you keep records and document all aspects of your finances, you create a detailed source of information when you have questions or aren’t sure about the right decision to make. You can reference your files to solve problems, answer questions, and realize what money moves make the most sense for you in the present.
And of course, keeping records of your cash flow — in other words, keeping a budget — means you stay on track for the future, too.
Track and Measure
Don’t let your money run wild without supervision. Financially savvy couples track income and spending so they can evaluate whether or not they’re putting their available dollars to the best use.
Another smart money move once you’ve started tracking your finances: measure your progress! Each month, measure how much your savings has grown. Keep tabs on your home value. See if your income is growing or staying stable.
You can also put all these metrics together to measure your net worth. This is a good indication of your overall financial health.
When you track and measure, you understand what’s going on and you can see your progress over time — and that can be a huge motivating factor to help you keep going.
It’s critical that both of you are involved with your finances and aware of what’s going on with your money. Don’t put one person in charge of all things financial, while the other remains in the dark and clueless about the bank accounts and retirement nest egg!
Assign roles based on your skills and interests. If your partner hates keeping a budget but you feel better when you can account for each and every purchase, you should man the spreadsheets (and your partner should help by bringing you receipts or otherwise making sure you know about the purchases they made throughout the month).
Or if you’re not great at staying organized and tend to forget what day it is, maybe your partner can handle paying the bills. Think about each of your strengths, and give yourselves financial tasks based on these.
Of course, neither one of you should monopolize your to-do list when it comes to money. You each need to be aware of what the other is doing and why so you can remain on the same page. That brings us to…
Communicate Clearly and Often
The first step to becoming a financially savvy couple: communicate! Remember, you’re a team and you can work together to achieve your goals and get what you want. But you can’t do this successfully if you don’t speak up, share your ideas, and understand what your partner thinks.
Always be honest, remain open, and don’t bottle up negative feelings.
Set up a framework to ensure each person’s thoughts and ideas are heard on a regular basis. Put a monthly “money date” on your calendar. Take 30 minutes to an hour once a month to sit down with your partner and go over all of your finances.
Look at your budget, pull up your bank and credit card accounts, examine your bills, and look at your retirement fund and investments. Evaluate what happened with your money last month, and make a plan to correct any mistakes or reign in any runaway spending for the upcoming month.
Then, brainstorm ways you can continue to improve your current actions with your finances. Save some time at the end to discuss goals, hopes, and dreams and ways you can continue to feel motivated and inspired to work for those things.
Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate
Let’s face it: when you start communicating, you may find that you and your partner aren’t on the same page about everything. Maybe they want to save up for a down payment on a house and settle down, whereas you’d like to save for a round-the-world trip where you’ll spend some time volunteering on an organic farm.
Is one of these goals more valid than the other? Of course not! But you may find it difficult to make both happen at the same time.
Some couples may view “compromise” as an ugly word. A compromise might mean someone wins and the other person loses. If this sounds familiar, change up your mindset and negotiate instead.
Each person’s wishes and goals are valid, and you should work together as a couple to find solutions that make both of you happy. Be willing to negotiate as you give and take. Avoid making demands or getting angry as you try and work out an agreement. Brainstorm ideas that speak to each of your needs.
Hope for the Best and Plan for the Worst
No one likes to think about what can go wrong, but financially savvy couples take action to protect themselves in emergencies, disasters, and worst-case scenarios. Start by creating an emergency fund, or liquid savings account with enough cash to cover a few months’ worth of expenses.
It also means evaluating your needs and looking into the proper insurance coverage. In addition, when you’re a couple and especially if you have children or other dependents, you need to establish an estate plan.
Keep Learning (Together!)
One of the most powerful actions you can take to become a financially savvy couple is to embrace learning together. No one has all the answers and there’s always something new to ask questions about and consider.
Make it a habit to ask those questions and research the answers together. You have a built-in study buddy, and someone to discuss your thoughts with — take advantage! By learning together, you’ll continue to improve the money moves you make and create a stronger partnership.
By making these money moves, you can work together as a financially savvy couple who understands each others needs and wants — while keeping your organized, well-run financial house on the right track to meet your biggest goals.