smart spending

Can spenders and savers co-exist?

Man cutting up credit cards
Highlights
  • Don't lose sight of your partner's qualities, even if you disagree.
  • Do prioritizing exercises to sort out your common goals and values.
  • Both parties should be involved in knowing where their money goes.

Money is rumored to be a minefield on the road to romantic bliss. It needn't destroy your relationship, though. With a little communicating, compromising and budgeting, even the most frivolous spender can find harmony with the most stubborn of savers.

To get marital finances in shipshape, couples must learn to speak to each other nicely, care about what the other person thinks and focus on the big picture when things don't go their way -- skills they should have acquired long before saying "I do."

Compromise is key

Marriage is a team sport; the outcome is best when couples cooperate and work together rather than flailing around like participants in a one-legged race who just stepped into a pile of red ants.

For each person to feel satisfied, some compromise is necessary to avoid big blowups that could implode the entire relationship.

Without it, resentment and anxiety could flourish.

"You may love them, but hate the way they handle money. And the goal is to not blur the lines where you begin to resent and strongly dislike your mate as a person," says Ellie Kay, a weekly expert on "ABC News Now" and author of 14 books, including the latest, "Living Rich for Less."

To begin, couples should partake in some exercises to assess priorities.

Financial exercises

Robert Laura, partner at Synergos Financial Group, recommends that couples list all of their expenses and prioritize them.

The exercise highlights which person values saving over going to the movies or buying new clothes.

"Should Internet connection for your computer be ahead of saving for your kid's college or your retirement? That's up in the air, but you just want to know what page the other person is on," Laura says.

Another exercise couples can do: Categorize expenses into wants, needs and goals.

"Instead of focusing on dollar amounts, look at what this expense is really for," says Laura.

Sorting out real goals and values will make it easier to cancel the cable and save for a house, or get rid of any of the other little wants that suck money away from achieving your dreams.

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Money talks

The trick to achieving long-term relationship bliss, at least in the realm of finances, comes down to communication.

First, couples should have a designated time for talking about money.

"When you look at the online banking (statement) and see that your husband spent $300 at Home Depot without discussing it with you, there's a time and place you can bring it up. This will help you avoid daily money squabbles and also help you learn self control," says Kay.

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