smart spending

Fight fair about money with your honey

Two pairs of hands fighting over large $20 bill
Highlights
  • If your spouse buys a pricey item, work out a businesslike compromise.
  • Consider differences in money styles to be an asset, not a liability.
  • If debt is preventing you from meeting monthly obligations, seek help.

Even if your marriage is made in heaven, things here on earth cost money. And it's rare for a couple to agree on every money decision. So how do you handle sticky financial situations that undoubtedly will crop up from time to time? Here are ways to navigate three of the "stickier" money situations you might face in your quest for wedded financial bliss.

Sticky situation No. 1:

Your spouse bought a big-ticket item, such as a large-screen HDTV, at a good price. The problem, though, is that the two of you never discussed the purchase. You feel betrayed. And maybe you even feel let down because you had your eye on something else.

How to resolve: The first step is to set up a meeting with your spouse. When you talk (not scream) to your spouse about the TV, avoid making accusations. "The most important thing is to stay calm, and discuss this like a business decision. Say 'It's important to me that we make these decisions together,'" says Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., a licensed psychotherapist and author of "Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage."

If you're feeling cheated because you think you missed out on the opportunity to spend the money on something you wanted, suggest a new way to make decisions about splurges. "You want to work out a compromise for approaching big purchases," says Rebecca Schreiber, a CFP in Silver Spring, Md. "Agree to take turns when it comes to things like TVs. But if you go this route, make sure that money is saved up for these purchases and you're not going into debt for them."

Sticky situation No. 2:

You and your significant other are at odds over how much to save for retirement. You want to spend money now and enjoy life; your spouse wants to save as much as possible for retirement.

 

 

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How to resolve: Want to know why this is such a common problem? "Money often creates marital conflict because opposite 'money styles' attract. A saver will be attracted to the generosity and free style of a spender and a spender will be attracted by the discipline and organization of the saver," says Laura Rowley, author of "Money and Happiness: A Guide to Living the Good Life."

But even when you have different styles, it's important to strike a balance between saving and spending. According to recent research by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, only 18 percent of workers surveyed felt very confident that they would have enough money to retire in comfort. So saving for your future security is vital. "This is when you may want to involve a neutral, third party to help you crunch the numbers in a realistic way," says Rowley.

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