Talking to your spouse about money can be difficult, but such conversations are vital to a healthy relationship. In fact, money problems are a common source of marital strife, so it’s important to maintain an open line of communication.
What follows are some general guidelines for talking with your spouse about your family’s finances:
- Pick the right time and neutral ground for your conversation(s). Trying to have a financial conversation on the spot can make your spouse feel like they’re being ambushed. Instead, pick a mutually agreeable time in the near future when you can sit down and talk.
- Choose your words carefully, show respect, and be specific. Don’t let the discussion to turn into a heated argument, and don’t point fingers. Instead, try to present your concerns as a team issue. Rather than making blanket statements about how your spending is out of control, ask things like “How do you think we can decrease our spending?” or “What do you think about reducing our spending in category X by Y dollars?”
- After you come to an agreement, write down your goals. This is an important point. While you don’t want to hold anything over your spouse’s head, having a concrete list of goals/steps can be an excellent motivational tool.
- Be willing to meet on an ongoing basis. Not all problems can be solved through a single conversation. Moreover, even if you’re able to quickly agree on the proper course of action, continuing to talk about things can help keep you both on track.
- Celebrate your success. Finally, don’t be afraid to celebrate your successes. It’s a team effort, and you both deserve a pat on the back whenever you score a victory.
What about you?
Do you have any tips for handling money conversations with your spouse? What works? What doesn’t? And what types of problems have you faced?