We’ve all heard the disheartening statistics: Roughly 20 percent of marriages end because of financial conflict. In fact, the more money a person makes; the more problems it causes. Among people who earned $100,000 or more, 33 percent of cited money as the cause of their divorce.
Other analysts skew the figure even higher. According to financial expert Larry Burkett, 85 to 90 percent of surveyed couples claim finances were the main reason for their divorce.
Even when divorce is not on the horizon, fights over finances top all issues for relationship woes. Slightly more than a third of respondents to a 2018 CreditCards.com poll said they’d rather have their significant others cheat on them than hide bank accounts from them.
Still, married couples are often reluctant to talk about their finances, instead of leaving themselves open to arguments and breaches of trust.
Issues such as debt, credit history and attitudes toward handling finances often lead to heated arguments.
And sometimes, no matter how much you plan, there still could be tough times and unemployment in your financial future.
Ending the Cycle
Instead of allowing financial disagreements and problems to escalate, a better course of action involves education and communication.
Financial education doesn’t have to be out-of-reach. There are many tools to help you learn. Take steps to counter conflict now— you can start by simply talking to the people in your life.
Couples can agree to have a financial business meeting once a week, at a set day and time. Consider the best place to meet — maybe a coffee shop will help you focus. It’s probably better to visit the wine bar at a different time. And while some meetings may be longer than others, even a quick 10-minute talk will make a big difference in working together and staying on financial track.
Patricia Seaman, senior director of Smart About Money, has some advice for those averse to discussions about money. Her website offers quizzes intended to help understand your financial priorities as well as those of your partner’s. The site also offers information and courses about saving, investing and emergency funds.
If your discussion reveals a few problem areas and hidden skeletons, you might want to talk to an experienced advisor. You might also consider a personal loan to eliminate credit card payments or pay medical expenses. “From a financial responsibility standpoint, it feels like a semi-savvy way to take on debt,” says Bankrate’s personal loans expert Todd Albery.
Look for a company like SkyCap Financial that offers SkyCap University, a free online course for clients that is aimed at improving financial literacy. The course covers several basic financial topics such as creating a budget, dealing with credit and loans, and preparing for retirement. Skycap also offers information about dealing with major financial life events, such as getting married or having a child.
You may also want to download an app like Honey, which helps couples manage their finances together. Or attend a financial literacy workshop.
Finally, the most important money move you might make for your relationship is to embrace your differences. Understand that you cannot change feelings created by a lifetime of different experience. There is no one “right” way to handle your finances and a “marriage” of your money styles may be the perfect solution.