How to Overcome Money Struggles in Romantic Relationships?
Finding the person you want to spend the rest of your life with is amazing. It is a wonderful feeling to know that there is someone who will always have your back and will always listen to you when you talk about your dreams and fears. Having a partner means never being alone. For everyone, having a partner means something a little different. There are many things you may call your partner, such as partner in life, partner in crime, or maybe even partner in pizza and Netflix. Whatever you call your relationship, it is important that you and your partner are on the same page.
To some people, it is important to be on the same page about everything. They think that it is important to share religious, political, ethical, moral, and purpose of life beliefs. To some people, it is just important that there is love and trust in their relationship. Politics and religion don’t matter, at least it doesn’t matter if there is a difference in belief. It may become a problem if they decide to have kids, and then decisions on upbringing must be made. But on the whole, just supporting one another is what is important.
Being on the same page about finance
Whether or not you believe that you and your partner should be on the same page about everything or about just being able to trust each other and build a life together, one thing is certain. You must be on the same page when it comes to your finances. Even if your shared decision is to not share money, it is important to share that with your partner. Some couples in romantic relationships share all of their money — whether or not they have a shared bank account, trading off who pays for groceries, going out, etc., while some couples in romantic relationships completely keep their money separate. Below you will see how there are so many money struggles in romantic relationships, as well as money mistakes that people make together.
Money in Relationships
There are usually money struggles in romantic relationships. Besides sex, money is consistently ranked as one of the top two reasons couples fight — usually winning spot number one. But just because it is common does not mean you and your partner have to fall into the same unhealthy pattern. It is important in any relationship to be able to communicate about any and all issues either partner has, but most importantly, it is essential to be able to communicate about issues without it always leading to fighting.
Money struggles in romantic relationships can certainly make some people feel powerless or desperate — especially if they grew up in a low-income household, but instead of falling into these negative cycles of arguing, try changing your perspective. Effective communication can help couples stop arguing. Instead of letting anger and insecurity take over you, try being empathetic and seeing your partner’s side. In order to have effective communication, you and your partner need to move from anger to empathy, be specific about your individual needs, and, after you have done the first two, make a plan — one you can both agree on — that will meet both of your needs.
“Couples and money should go hand in hand.” One great thing about being in a partnership is that neither person knows everything, and together you are stronger — and smarter — than you are alone. Each person has valuable insight and knowledge to contribute, and as a team, each couple can work to achieve their life goals.
The Biggest Mistakes Couples Make When It Comes to Money
If you understand what kinds of mistakes other people make, it can be easier not to make those same mistakes yourself. Especially when it comes to something like money, which is an issue in almost every area of your life, it can be difficult to keep perspective. You can relax knowing that other couples have made the same mistakes and gotten through them successfully. Here are the top mistakes when it comes to money struggles in romantic relationships:
Some Couples Never Talk About Money
In an effort to save stress in the relationship, some couples just avoid talking about money altogether. They realize that when they do talk about money, they end up arguing about something petty, and they feel more comfortable just avoiding the topic entirely. Unfortunately, this just leads to worse problems down the road. The key is to be upfront about money issues from the beginning and share any financial information that will affect your relationship. For example, sometimes one of the partners has a bad credit history because of having a large number of unpaid credit card bills. Or one of the partners might have terrible spending habits, going out and spending an entire paycheck on entertainment, clothes and restaurant food so there is no money left over for bills.
It is important to discuss all this information honestly at the beginning of the relationship. When you see that there is a problem, you can work on it together to find a solution. Instead of judging or blaming, it is important to understand that sometimes people make bad decisions about money and they need help changing the way they handle their finances.
Some Couples Put One Of the Partners In Charge Of All the Finances
This may seem like a good idea if one of the partners has better spending habits or is well educated in financial matters. However, this is a mistake for couples who want to make a long term commitment. When one partner does all the work, he or she may feel resentful because of being forced to do all the work. The other partner may start to feel insecure when seeing signs that the joint money isn’t being spent as thought.
Even if one of the partners is doing most of the work, it is important for both to meet on a regular basis and go over everything that is happening with bills, investments, and income. Each person should have input on making decisions, and neither one should feel the need to ask permission to spend money. As long as communication is open and both of you have input, you will feel more secure not just with finances but with your relationship in general.
Merging Your Accounts Too Fast Can Be a Big Mistake
You trust each other and you want to share everything, right? So why not go ahead and start sharing everything, including your bank accounts. The first reason this could be a problem is that it can make life very difficult when you break up if you are sharing bank accounts. You want to make sure you really are firmly committed before you take such a big step. Untangling your assets when you share bank accounts can lead to serious problems, with one person cleaning out the account when he or she decides to leave the relationship. Even when you get married, it may be easier not to share just one bank account.
The easiest way to handle it is to have an account which a couple can use for all the household expenses, like the mortgage, utilities, and childcare. Then each of you can still have your own personal account which can serve as a back up if there is a problem. You don’t have to decide on one way up front; you can try different ways to see which works best for you as a couple.
Keeping Secrets Is Bad — Keeping Money Secrets Is Worse!
One big mistake couples often make when it comes to money struggles in romantic relationships is keeping secrets from each other about money. Sometimes this even happens for couples who are meeting on a regular basis to discuss their finances, in an effort to keep communication open. One of you might decide that certain information is too embarrassing to share, or that you just want to wait and see how a situation plays out.
Often the big secret is a spending habit, for anything from coffee to shoes to gambling. There are even partners who hide child support payments from a past relationship. Whatever the nature of the secret, it is important for both members of a committed couple to come to terms with what is happening and deal with it. Without communication, the relationship will probably fail.
You Need To Save For a Rainy Day
Most people feel like they’re living paycheck to paycheck and barely getting by. It is important for a couple to budget and find a way to put back at least a small amount of money on a regular basis so that when something bad happens, they will be able to weather the storm and get through financially. Some people think nothing will happen, but it is is the nature of life that there will be emergencies. You may need a root canal, or your car may break down and need repairs, or you may need to repair something in your home not covered under the warranty. When that moment comes, you will be glad you have the money to cover your expenses.
Sometimes the stress is too much when there is what should be a small financial crisis, and couples break up because they feel like they’re working too hard at the relationship. Being prepared just might save your relationship down the road. If you find yourself running up debts to pay for small emergencies, your relationship will feel constantly under stress.
The Devil Is In the Details
Make a detailed plan you can stick to! For instance, you can have one partner pay the utility bills and the other one do the credit card bills. You need to know who is doing what and when, or important tasks will not get done, or they will get done late. Decide how the money will be split up, and how much you are saving every week or every month. Make sure your plan is reasonable, so you should be able to succeed if you really try. You can avoid money struggles in romantic relationships by following a plan you can both agree on.
What Questions Should You Ask a Future Partner Before Committing?
Sometimes people want completely different things and the lifestyles they want aren’t compatible with each other. You’re better off knowing that ahead of time before you get even deeper into your relationship. Sometimes there is room for compromise, as long as one or both members of the couple think it’s worth it. But getting the information as soon as possible is important so you won’t have unreasonable expectations.
What Kind of Debts Do You Have?
This is often the biggest barrier to financial security for many couples. One or both of the people entering into the relationship already has a large amount of debt, because of a car loan, student loans, credit cards, or other kinds of debts. It is important for everyone to be honest about this when deciding whether to commit to a relationship. Having debts isn’t a bar to a relationship, but it can mean making different plans and putting off some plans until later while those debts are paid off.
Do You Know Your Credit Score?
Many people probably don’t know their credit score, but it is easy enough to find out. Your credit score will help determine your financial health and whether you can take out a mortgage. When buying a new home or refinancing your existing home, lenders look for certain kinds of credit scores. That score can be what keeps you from being able to buy a home for your family. Calculating your credit score can be really useful!
How Much Money Do You Make?
Of all the questions, this one feels the most personal. Many people feel embarrassed if they don’t make as much, even though no one else is judging. The fact is that you need to know this information in order to make financial plans together. At least on the long term.
Have You Had Problems Managing Money In the Past?
Again, this isn’t a question you want to ask in order to judge your partner. No matter what you have done in the past, you can move past it if you take a good look at the situation and work hard on it. Being in a relationship might give you the motivation you need to finally start making good financial choices.
What Will Be the Plan For Actually Paying the Bills?
Figure out your budget based on your income and basic expenses, and then make a plan to make it happen. One trick that can help anyone who wants to organize finances is to change the due date on one or more of your accounts. Depending on when you get paid, it may be easier to pay everything at once or throughout the month.
Are We Getting a Joint Account, Or Will We Keep Our Accounts Separate?
Again, this is something that can cause problems, but it may work for you. It is definitely one of the decisions you will have to make as a couple when you are entering a committed relationship. Weigh the pros and the cons, such as the convenience offset by the possible future inconvenience of untangling your assets.
Getting Back On Track
It may seem negative to focus on finances at the beginning of a relationship, but in fact, it will take a lot of stress out of the relationship once you have had open and honest discussions with your partner. You will find that your day to day life is more enjoyable because you aren’t as worried about the past as you face the future together. The other great thing is that once you have made your financial plans together, you can repair any bad credit and work toward your savings goals. Here are some of the tools people use when they want to get their financial lives back on track:
Make a Budget
This is something you should have already been doing, but a lot of people don’t learn how to budget until they are faced with problems. You can look at this as a great opportunity to learn the tricks to creating a realistic yet accurate budget. Some of the most important steps you need to take include
1. Take note of all of your sources of income
Whether it be your salary from your job, bonuses at work, a side gig helping out a neighbor, or even a regular check you get from a grandparent. List everything you can depend on as part of your cash flow.
2. Write down all of your recurring monthly bills
It should include rent, utilities, tuition, medical bills, credit cards, or anything else you pay on a regular basis.
3. Set your budget within your means
That may seem like common sense, but some people think it’s all right to spend a certain amount on credit cards every month, or other bad habits. Keep your budgeted expenses within the amount of income you can expect. Bad credit loan shopping will find high-interest loans you need to make payments on every month.
4. Use an App
To help with budgeting. There are several free apps that can help you with everything from budgeting to finding the best gas prices.
5. Use SMART financial goals
Think of using them but also of tweaking them as you become better at saving money and living within your means. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. You won’t feel discouraged if you work toward goals you can reasonably achieve.
6. Use cash for errands
Doing so you only have a limited resource to accomplish a task. You no longer want to be the person who goes into the store for one item and comes out with several items you saw when you were there.
Set Up an Emergency Account
Setting up an emergency account could definitely save you from bad situation. You won’t regret setting aside money for emergencies. Just knowing the cash is there will help take the stress out of your daily life, and you will be able to deal with small disasters quicker and more efficiently. You could end up needing your emergency stash for so many problems, such as a car crash, an illness or injury, unscheduled time off work, or to help a family member. You could end up dealing with the effects of an unplanned emergency for years if you aren’t prepared to handle it.
Make it part of your budget to set aside a small amount of money with each paycheck, and you will be surprised how quickly your fund grows. Keep the money separate, in its own bank account or in easily liquidated investments like CDs. Only use the case in a real emergency.
Managing Your Debts
This might be the most freeing part for anyone who feels stuck in a debt cycle. You can learn to manage your debts in such a way that you can live your life without worrying, while you watch your debt shrink month by month. Here are some great tips that will help:
- First, draw up a list of everything you owe, how much you owe per month, and who you owe it to.
- Look at your payment schedule and make a calendar so you can track payments.
- Make at least a minimum payment each time.
- Go through and prioritize your debts by important factors like which ones have the highest interest rates and which ones you might be able to pay off quickly.
- A financial counselor may be able to help you even more to find ways to manage your past debts or even cut down on the amount you owe. Financial literacy charities can help you understand money and debt, and give you the tools you need to make changes.
When Your Resources Aren’t Enough
You may feel like there is simply no way to accomplish all your financial goals because your income and expenses are too close together. Evaluate your life and look for changes you can make that will help your goals line up more closely. For instance, you can go through your home and find items that you no longer want or need and sell them so you have extra cash to pay down a loan. You can work overtime if your job allows it, or add a part-time job so you can bring in extra income. As you get used to your budget, you will probably find areas where you are spending more than you need to.
Even something as simple as setting your thermostat at a different temperature or eating generic brands from the grocery store can save you a noticeable amount of money. Sometimes you can ease money struggles in romantic relationships by achieving those small successes together.
The Reality of Couples and Relationships
Do things always go the way you plan even if you have worked out a budget and made a commitment? Almost never. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing, though. Realistically, couples often end up arguing about money. Relationships are a lot of work, but they’re worth it. Sometimes arguing about money helps couples learn more about each other, and their relationship becomes stronger because they understand each other so much better now.
Sometimes the disagreements may seem silly, like when one partner wants to buy expensive name brands when the budget doesn’t allow for it, but it can be a real problem. You may be able to find a solution by shopping at an outlet mall or finding bargains online. Personality problems may make couples clash if one thinks the other isn’t serious enough, or one of the partners may be envious because of the other’s higher salary. When those kinds of conflicts arise, remind each other that you are on the same team and both salaries are now being shared.
Some of the biggest conflicts arise because one partner breaks part of the agreement to stay within the budget. That could happen when one buys a new car or even goes out to lunch when the money wasn’t part of the budget. Those kinds of conflicts seem like betrayals because both partners need to be committed to making the plan work. Sometimes couples fight because their children make unreasonable demands, but children are better off if they learn at an early age that they can’t necessarily get everything they want. And finally, almost every couple feels dissatisfaction at some point because of unmet expectations. It helps to make a big future goal so that you understand what you’re working toward.
Finances can make or break a relationship, depending on how you deal with them. No amount of money can prevent money struggles in romantic relationships where the individuals don’t feel like partners, and couples with limited means can work their way out of debt and into the lifestyle they want for themselves and their families. The feeling of security and trust you build with your partner will affect you on a daily basis, as you meet new challenges knowing that you have a plan and a backup plan.
Grace Douglas is a master candidate in international security management by day and a personal finance writer by night! With powers in finance, writing, and languages that she received by being exposed to high dosages of university courses and being bitten by booklice while working in a rare books library, Grace loves to use her powers for good rather than evil. If you need help with budgets or personal loan questions, then just call Grace, your friendly neighborhood FinanceWoman!