House and Home

5 Ways to Talk to Your Partner About Money (Without It Turning Into a Fight)

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I recently sat down with Andrea Woroch, financial expert, to discuss the number one reason for divorce: money concerns.

Money affects marriage in a big way, and a survey by Money Magazine shows just that, concluding that 70 percent of couples argue over finances more than chores, sex, snoring, togetherness, or what's for dinner. Couples in the study cited frivolous purchases, household budgeting and credit card debt as the biggest sources of friction.

Such issues don’t just lead to squabbles, either; 56 percent of divorced spouses say financial strains contributed to the split.

From meshing your spending personalities to creating a secure financial future, focusing on money as a couple — and early in the relationship — can pave the way to a happily ever after. Since money can often feel like a sensitive and personal issue, it’s important to know when and how to address the topic.

Read on for tips on how to approach the money talk, and tricks for avoiding a fight over your financial issues:

#1. Have the money talk early.

Communication is crucial — especially when it comes to finances. Couples should start talking about money when their relationship goes from casual to committed. Discuss future life goals (both short-term and long-term), learn savings and spending styles, find out your partner’s attitude toward money, and even discuss debt balances.

Figuring out where you share common values and where you don't will alleviate tension while helping you eventually align your financial views.

#2. Work toward shared goals.

Determine a financial goal you both share — like saving for a vacation or down payment on a home — to help you and your partner understand the purpose of a household budget. Take steps to save money on everyday purchases, discovering ways to trim everyday spending with such tools as ShopSavvy for price comparison, or Coupon Sherpa for in-store savings.

The spendthrift can learn from the savvy spender about learning to avoid unnecessary purchases, while the savvy spender can learn how to loosen up and give into intimacy-building splurges, like a monthly dinner date or a romantic weekend escape.

#3. Plan money and budgeting "date."

Set a money date once a month (or quarter) to review your budget, savings goals, monthly bills and investments. Make any adjustments as needed based on lifestyle and new life circumstances, like having a baby or buying a house.

This is also a good time to bring up money issues that have been bothering you, like if your partner has spent too much on entertainment or clothing this past month. Instead of blowing up in the heat of the moment, setting aside time can alleviate tension.

#4. Set spending rules.

While it’s important to not pick apart every dollar that your partner spends, setting rules for large purchases prevents impulse buys of unnecessary items and keeps you both on the same page. Depending on your budget, set this rule at $100 or $200. All purchases above that figure must be discussed together.

#5. Don't ignore any outstanding debts.

Couples often neglect to share information about their debts, due to the debtor feeling embarrassed or thinking it’s not their partner’s business. However, when you tie the knot, you’re also tying the other person into your financial issues, so it’s important to put it all out on the table. Plus, for future borrowing needs, banks and lenders may pull credit reports and credit histories of both spouses, so it’s important to understand each other's current debt and credit situations.

Review your scores for free using sites like MyLendingTree or CreditKarma, where you can gain insight into each other’s credit profile and find ways to improve and save money.

Midori Verity is the "Energizing Relationship Coach," the best-selling author of "Secrets to a Kickass Marriage," and host of "The Ultimate Relationship Show." It only takes five minutes per day to begin re-energizing your relationship. Register here.

This article was originally published at Midori Verity website. Reprinted with permission from the author.