5 Ways To Find Financial Peace with Your Spouse

In Ben James, Community by Lola Magazine

Under the influence of romance, practicalities often go overlooked or unaddressed. While disputes over who takes out the garbage might not be lifechanging, studies show that couples who can’t agree on how to spend and save have a higher likelihood of divorce. To maintain a healthy relationship, it’s important to address these financial questions before they become a problem.

Talking about money remains taboo in polite society, yet so much of your family’s life and future is dictated by the financial decisions you and your spouse make today. With so few opportunities to talk on such a high stakes subject, no wonder couples find it difficult to come to a middle ground. So how can you find financial peace with your spouse?

Here are five ways to prevent financial arguments from getting in the way of your family’s happiness. Each section includes questions for you to ask each other. Keep in mind that God gave you a spouse not to frustrate you, but to complete you. Their self-worth is more important than their net worth.

ONE

Understand each other’s financial history 

Finances can be an emotional topic, bringing up cultural and family differences, issues of independence, and past failures. Learning about your partner’s experiences with money can build a foundation of understanding from which the structure of a financial plan can be built.

Pick a good time to ask each other the following questions: 

What was money like in your birth family? What is their first memory of money? Do you prefer to spend or save? What emotional needs are met for them when they do spend or save?

TWO

Review each other’s debts – especially consumer related debt 

According to Captain Obvious (and verified by recent surveys), couples with less consumer debt have fewer arguments over money. With today’s low interest rates, it might make sense to refinance your higher interest debt to lower, fixed rates.

Pick a good time to ask each other the following questions: 

What debts do we have? How would our life be better if we could eliminate some liabilities? What is your credit score? Map out a plan to address any issues that arise from this conversation.

THREE

Be honest with yourself and each other

Hiding spending or debt from your partner is a dangerous game. Be honest with your spouse about your slip-ups and your financial goals. Be honest with yourself about what incentives will best motivate you to meet your goals. The truth will set you free.

Pick a good time to ask each other the following questions: 

What kind of lifestyle do you envision for retirement? What rewards would motivate you to work towards these goals? Make note of where your answers overlap and where they diverge. The problem areas tend to be the divergences.

FOUR

Separate control of your assets

If you do not feel you are financially compatible, but still want to stay in a relationship, then joint accounts are not for you. You might keep three types of accounts: his, hers and ours.

Pick a good time to ask each other the following questions: 

How will regular household expenses be divided? Will we make investments separately too? How do we handle emergencies? Will we pay off our debt together or separately?

FIVE

Work with a financial professional 

Hire a reputable financial advisor to help you find common ground and honor both of your needs. A good advisor can help hold you both accountable to your stated best intentions, and build a financial plan that can help sustain your relationship.

Pick a good time to ask each other the following questions: 

Do we have a plan including tax-efficient investing, saving and spending strategies? Do we have the expertise, time, and temperament to handle our finances on our own? Could we benefit from a second opinion?

Finances can be a balancing act, and we all can struggle at times. Like anything else, practice makes perfect. Marriage, it is said, smooths away our rough edges, like two stones bouncing down the river of life. Don’t give up, go with the flow, and who knows how far you will go?

About the Author:

Ben James is the Co-Founder of Deupree James Wealth Management. He and his wife, Dr. Stephanie James, live in Shreveport with their four children.

Securities offered through Triad Advisors, LLC. Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through Goss Advisors, a registered investment adviser. Goss Advisors and the Deupree James Group are separate entities from Triad Advisors, LLC.