Money is one of the biggest issues about which couples argue. Letting certain financial issues fester can cause them to explode into huge fights that may derail your relationship.
Here are five common money issues that can trigger trouble. If you recognize any of these in your relationship, address them now so they don’t become a big problem down the road.
1. Not being on the same page
Not being on the same page on your first date isn’t a big deal. The old “I’ll pay”/”No, I insist, let me” dance can be awkwardly cute. But when you become a couple, you’d better get straight on certain things.
What standard of living do you want? Where do you see yourself in five or 10 years? What are your long-term financial goals when it comes to savings, buying a home and choosing between investing in stocks or bonds?
If you don’t get clear on these fundamentals, you are just setting yourself up for serious disagreements.
2. Keeping secrets
Honesty is the foundation of any solid relationship, and that includes financial honesty.
If you have a ton of debt, be upfront about it. If you made a huge purchase without consulting your partner, ‘fess up. If you keep a separate bank account so your spouse doesn’t know how much money you really make, it’s time to talk about trust and transparency.
Money secrets never end well. Lessen the damage by spilling yours sooner rather than later.
3. Not knowing who is the boss
If one person is “in charge” of your joint finances, is he or she comfortable with that role? Is the other person on board with your strategies, or is each money decision a fight for control?
If no one is in charge, you’d better designate a leader right now. You can chart a vision and strategy together, but one person should be in charge of making sure the bills get paid and the asset allocation is under control.
Do not fly without a financial pilot. It will only lead to a crash and burn.
4. Not coping with mismatched money personalities
If one of you is a shopaholic and the other scrimps to save every penny, you have a lot of work ahead of you.
Create a written budget that can help you identify a lifestyle and money management plan that works for both of you.
Yes, opposites attract, and “odd couples” can make it work. But this takes a lot of discussion and compromise.
5. Playing the blame game.
Whether you combine your finances or keep them separate, a couple are a financial team. You may not always agree with your partner’s choices, but you are in this together.
As long as you both take responsibility for your actions, your job as a team is to focus on solutions, not blame and judgment. Learn to ask for forgiveness, grant forgiveness and move on.
Paula Pant quit her day job, traveled to 32 countries, and became a successful investor. Her blog, “Afford Anything,” helps people crush limits, create wealth and maximize life. Follow Paula on Twitter: @AffordAnything.