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Is your marriage in troubled (financial) waters?

By Danielle van Wyk

One of the things people fight about the most in a romantic partnership, is money. This is often because one person tends to handle the finances, or a couple does not provide equally to the household income, or they might even have different spending habits or financial goals.

Financial incompatibility can lead to marital and financial problems, which could threaten the stability of the relationship.

An American study done with more than 4500 couples showed that couples with debt were more likely to break up. And the more debt, the unhappier a relationship.

How can you avoid the money trap and live financially happily ever after?

According to Charles Pitt, private client wealth manager at Alexander Forbes Wealth, there are three key ways :

1. Understand your household finances

In many South African households, one spouse tends to handle all the bills. While this may be born out of convenience it could also lead to misunderstandings and arguments about where the money goes every month.

Pitt encourages that both spouses understand how the monthly household budget is divided up.

  1. Have open dialogue

Many couples start out with aligned money attitudes but as the relationship and the individuals grow they may find themselves out of sync.

Suddenly arguments about whether to repair the car now or continue to save for a Thailand holiday trip arise.

Stressful situations are not the best in which to discover a partner’s spending habits or attitude towards money. It is worth sitting down and regularly discussing financial matters with a partner.

“Find compromises that will allow you to save for the future while still enjoying your present,” Pitt says.

3. Get help

There is no shame in realising and admitting you need help.

Sometimes even after an open conversation and financial transparency you could find that you’re still not able to make ends meet.

If so, it is always advised that you and your partner sit down with a trusted financial advisor to not only help you restructure your finances but also to facilitate dialogue around your financial future.

There are also many online tools, like GoodBudget and 22seven, at your disposal geared towards household budgeting.

Here, automating pre-selected bill payments and regular contributions to retirement and savings accounts for example, can also help you to keep to your monthly budget.

Finances can be a sticky subject, resulting in endless headaches - even in a trusting relationship.
But taking time to have the necessary money conversations can make all the difference.

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