It is no secret that financial stress is one of the biggest reasons for a relationship coming apart. Love often proves to be inadequate when money is tight and couples can’t cope with the situation together. Even when there is enough dough to go around and you are in no major debt, if the way you handle money differs significantly from that of your partner, you may keep having fights about spending and saving. In order to see if you are financially compatible, here are a few questions you can consider.
Do you have common financial goals?
Your relationship has a strong chance of weathering financial ups and downs if you share financial goals with your partner. If both of you feel that paying off the mortgage on your home should come before buying a fancy car or that you should enjoy an exotic vacation now that you are young before getting caught up in parental responsibilities, then this is a good measure of your financial compatibility. However bear in mind priorities may change few years down in a relationship for instance once you have kids, you might start thinking about saving money to pay for their college. Conflicts about money usually arise when partners have differing priorities. While a husband may believe in splurging on a new sports car, a wife may feel that the money is better spent on a long vacation to an exotic location. It is here that the maturity of a couple is called for. They can either compromise on what they want or when they want it. For instance the couple could go for weekend trip to a more affordable destination and go for a cheaper model of a new car. Or they could get the fancy car now and start saving right away for a vacation next year. Whatever the decision, it should keep in mind the desires of both partners and the resources available.
TIP: Download the guide to making up with your partner.
Do you have similar financial values?
Even when a couple has common financial goals, their relationship can be in trouble if their financial habits or values differ. Perhaps you and your partner both dream of buying a lakeside cottage, but while you would much rather save for it, your partner doesn’t mind in going for another mortgage. Such disparate financial values can make way for serious disagreements over managing and spending money. On the other hand if you and your partner subscribe to the same belief of living debt-free or if neither of you are too worried about expenses two years from now, then you have a fairly compatible approach to finances.
How do you manage money?
Then there are different ways of managing money - some couples like living according to a budget where they can plan and account for every little expenditure and take great pleasure in saving till they have enough money to meet common financial goals, both big and small. On the other hand there are some carefree souls who prefer adopting a more relaxed approach to finances where apart from keeping some money for emergencies, they like to spend as they go along and till they have run out of the present paycheck. If you and your partner share the same approach to managing money, needless to say there is less room for friction; however if one of you believes in making and keeping to a budget while the other feels stifled by such restrictions, there is a lot you need to work at. You can start by the simple method of tracking your spending – as a couple and as individuals. Tracking your spending is not a way to point fingers at one another as to who is spending what, nor is it having someone looking over your shoulder every time you buy something. Tracking your spending is the simplest form of budgeting and is just a way of knowing where your money is going - unless you do this, it is impossible to set financial goals you are both comfortable with or to be financially secure.
How do you handle debt?
Sometimes couples who have different financial values – like where one tends to live from one paycheck to another while the other believes in saving – try to live together by completely separating their finances. This might work in a short run but in a long committed relationship, this is rather impractical. If you are living as a couple, you need to handle debt as a couple too. Saying that your spouse's debt isn't your problem is not a permanent solution because even if the debt existed before you married, your credit rating can be negatively impacted as well as the bottom line of how much money the two of you are paying monthly in interest charges.
Do you discuss finances?
It is not enough to set down a few guidelines on expenses and then go about each other’s ways. Successful couples usually make it a point to have a chat on money matters on a regular basis, maybe once every month. If you are not doing this, mark a date on the calendar if need be, so that you both can reschedule other engagements. Use this time to discuss individual and joint financial obligations besides keeping track of expenses and earnings in your relationhship. If you have any queries regarding a major expense by your partner, clarify it at your discussion instead of brooding over it and getting mad at your partner. Even after your best efforts, if the topic of debt, bills, savings, and goals makes one or both of you uncomfortable or defensive, seek the help of a financial counselor or planner. for financial compatibility, iIt is important that both of you know where you stand financially and have common financial goals.
Do you keep big financial secrets?
Finally even if you share financial goals in your relationship and have the same approach to money management, if you are keeping big financial secrets from your partner, it is a sign that somewhere you are not financially compatible. Not being honest about the cost of large financial purchases or keeping debts hidden is considered financial infidelity and can be a major cause of stress in relationships. This is not to imply that you can never make an impulsive purchase of your favorite brand of golf clubs or splurge on a spa without checking with your partner – but hiding such a purchase, lying about a substantial running expense like alimony to an ex or worse running up debt without discussing it with your current partner can destroy the trust that is the foundation of a successful relationship.