“Till death do us part” has now been replaced with “till debt do us part.” Therapists, divorce lawyers and financial professionals often cite money issues as a main contributor to the demise of a marriage. But it doesn’t have to be the case.
While everyone’s situation is different, there are some common financial issues that can derail a relationship.
1. Opposing values
If one partner wants to acquire a lot of possessions or live a certain lifestyle—expensive cars, the latest fashions, luxurious vacations and regular visits to the top restaurants—and the other partner prefers a more toned-down existence, then there may be areas of conflict. It doesn’t matter how much net worth you have—materialism can decrease happiness.
Researchers at Brigham Young University and William Patterson University found in a study that in one in five of 1,734 couples, both partners admitted a strong love of materialistic things. While these couples had financial means, money was often a bigger source of conflict for them. Not surprisingly, these couples were rated at the bottom of the survey’s happiness scale.
2. Not seeing eye-to-eye about money
This differs from values, as it’s more of a day-to-day allocation of funds. According to experts, foolishly spending money is the number-one financial cause for divorce. Of course, “foolish” is a matter of opinion.
Some spouses may want to save to meet goals such as paying for college, buying a second home or investing in a business. While others believe that spending money on hobbies such as gambling, restoring cars or remodeling homes is a good way to relax or to increase income. The take-away is to decide what amount of money you, as a couple, are comfortable allocating toward discretionary spending.
3. Maintaining traditional relationship roles
Gone are the days when women turned the earnings and financial planning responsibilities over to their partners. Many women earn more than their husbands; some wives—or husbands—choose to delay an income to care for their children.
The bottom line: Someone in the household is usually more predisposed to managing financial matters—and if no one is, consider working with a Certified Financial Planner. There are also many online tools you can use to help keep track of your finances.
4. Having different money philosophies
Often in a marriage, one is a spender and the other is a saver. It’s not a deal breaker, but these differences can cause tension in a relationship. It is not uncommon to see financial opposites gravitate toward each other.
Recognizing this and consulting a neutral third party can help alleviate tensions. Perhaps it means allocating a certain amount for the spender to have each month and an amount that the saver feels comfortable with, as well as a common fund that the couple contributes to that meets mutual goals.
5. Neglecting to plan
As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Things happen—and sometimes you look back and wonder where the years went.
Marriage, kids, houses, businesses, caring for loved ones, health issues—no one is immune from life’s challenges. Which means having a plan as a couple—from the day you say “I do” is key. If you have significant assets, consider a prenup from the start. If you forgo a prenup, consult with a financial planner to develop a roadmap for moving forward.
Money is a difficult subject for most people. Combining funds, philosophies, and spending and savings habits can add to the pressure. Whether you’ve been married for decades—or are simply contemplating marriage—consider professional advice about how to make a financial plan that you both can agree upon. Talk to us today about how to develop a personalized financial plan that meets your mutual goals.