At a Glance
It’s no secret: Money can be a point of tension in even the best relationships. But happy couples approach finances differently. Here are six things couples with money do differently:
They talk honestly about money
For starters, they don’t shy away from discussing money.
“Couples who are married or contemplating marriage need to have frank and open discussions about money. There needs to be full disclosure of each other’s debts and assets, says Lauren Blair, a lawyer with FreeAdvice.com with over 25 years of experience in divorce and family law.
Some couples take the opposite route and keep hidden money secrets from their partners: Credello’s love and debt survey revealed 35% of respondents have hidden debt and/or a large purchase from a romantic partner. And that’s the first thing you want to avoid if you want to take a page from the playbook of couples with money who are also happily in love. Mixing money and relationships may be uncomfortable, it may be downright scary, but it’s necessary.
“For many people, being transparent about their financial situation is very scary, especially because a lot of us are taught that money issues are private. But, a good marriage needs a solid foundation of trust and communication in all things, including finances.”
So frank discussions are the first step. However, the happiest couples also embrace other financial habits, from the way they approach credit card debt to having joint accounts. Dive into a few of their money secrets below so you can adopt the same approaches and save yourself trouble in paradise.
They have a joint account
“Money is one of the top things couples fight about and not coincidentally, a top cause of divorce. Relationship counselors might agree that couples who do not have joint accounts may have trust issues that can lead to serious problems,” says Blair. “Having joint accounts allows for transparency and requires accountability.”
Some couples maintain individual accounts and put funds into a joint account for common expenses such as mortgage payments and groceries. Others have drastically different incomes and thus drastically different contributions to the household. Every couple is unique, but if you’re going to share your life with someone, you need to be able to share the state of your bank account too, as it can have an impact on both partners. Building trust around spending habits and financial decisions is essential.
They set a budget together
According to Blair, happy couples also set a budget together. “Setting and sticking to a budget holds people accountable when sharing income and expenses. It eliminates surprises and resentment about how, when, and where money is spent. It also allows couples to think about saving money and long-term financial planning.”
Notice a theme around accountability? It’s not about financial control, but making sure financial goals are in line so there are no bad surprises that can negatively affect your relationship.
They seek professional financial help
While setting a budget is a pretty easy-to-figure out secret, you may be surprised to find out that the happiest couples seek professional help preemptively when it comes to managing their money. No need to wait until you have money problems to reach out to a financial planner. It can prevent relationship issues down the line.
“Not every household can afford to hire a financial planner, but if it’s possible, then it’s advisable,” recommends Blair. “A reliable financial planner can help couples set and stick to budgets and offer investment and other asset-building advice to help couples grow their nest egg and help reach their financial goals and dreams.”
They prioritize tried-and-tested investments
And when it comes to financial goals, happy couples tend to prioritize tried-and-tested investments. Sure, you may be thrilled about your partner’s newfound enthusiasm for cryptocurrency when it’s yielding surprise returns. But not so thrilled when you find out all your savings took a sudden dip along with the market.
“Today, with bitcoin and stock buying apps, a lot of couples forget about the benefits of simple, straightforward savings tools. You don’t need to get in every new or trendy investment to help grow your money,” says Blair. Since savings accounts have super low interest rates, she recommends Certificates of Deposit or CDs, a type of savings account that holds a fixed amount of money for a fixed period of time in exchange for interest paid by the bank.
“CDs accrue interest at higher rates than a traditional savings account, plus there are time restrictions, typically ranging from 6 months to 10 years, on when you can touch the money. That helps lock up funds from the temptation to spend them.”
They are transparent about credit card debt
Finally, happy couples are radically transparent about credit card debt. “Credit card debt is dangerous whether you’re married or single. Most couples have their own credit cards and may not share information on spending and how much debt they are racking up,” according to Blair.
And having a joint credit card raises the stakes for both partners involved in a way that can be incredibly positive for the relationship.
“Like a joint bank account, having a joint credit card forces couples to be accountable to each other about what they spend. It also helps them to stick to their budget and limit unnecessary or impulsive purchases.”
Couples should consider using a debt consolidation loan calculator to help them with formulating their debt-free strategy.