1. Find common ground on the big purchases: houses, cars, condos. “Make sure you discuss not just the practical details, but the emotional implications,” says Dr Judy. “Large expenditures tend to imply long-lasting involvement that can stir up feelings about the solidity and longevity of your commitment to each other.” Trace the roots of your money personalities, and learn to express your feelings about big purchases calmly and rationally.
2. Talk about spending money for anniversaries, birthdays, and special occasions. If partners have different ideas on what a “reasonable” amount of money to spend on special occasions is, then this personal finance issue could snowball into a big marriage problem and become a reason your relationship fails. Find ways to meet halfway; for instance, if you think $200 is reasonable for a birthday gift and he thinks $100 is, then spend $150. Or, find non-financial ways to celebrate special occasions.
3. Be prepared for unemployment, layoffs, and pink slips. These financial issues or employment problems can cause problems for married and common law couples, and can also affect self-esteem, confidence levels, and emotional upsets (in addition to preventing couples from achieving financial abundance!). According to Dr Judy, successful couples need to plan their personal finance with regular discussions, and be open to adjusting their lifestyle accordingly.
4. Know how you’ll deal with promotions, financial windfalls, and salary increases. “Weathering windfalls can be just as much a source of stress as tumbling finances,” writes Dr Judy. “You’ll face practical discussions about what to do with the money.” Decide in advance how you’d handle certain money matters — and remember that men and women handle money differentl. Newlyweds or recently married couples may be particularly prone to money problems because they’re still learning each other’s money personalities.
5. Talk about children and money. Food, clothes, doctor’s bills, sports, entertainment, education, recreation – they’re all money issues that cause marriage problems. To create financial abundance, start budgeting, teaching your kids how to earn their own money, and schedule on-going discussions or “money huddles.”
6. Be prepared to handle tax-time troubles. Deadlines, panics over taxes paid and unpaid, and frustrations with the powers that be can be a money issue that causes marriage problems. “Trust might also be destroyed if one of you suspects the other of hiding assets or being dishonest,” says Dr Judy.
7. Accept and deal with the stepfamily’s finances. Alimony and/or child support payments can put a financial drain on your income as a couple, which leads to marriage problems. To keep your financial life steady, accept that the responsibilities from a previous marriage are important to uphold (even if a toxic ex-wife is involved!). Plan for those stepfamily expenses, and separate the resentful or competitive feelings from the reality.
8. Plan realistically for vacations, weekend getaways, family holidays. “Attitudes on how to apportion your resources for time off, what to do, and how much to spend can make what should be a dream vacation turn into a nightmare,” says Dr Judy. “Resolve different attitudes ahead of time, such as flying economy or first class.”