Episode 132: Tips for communicating about money in your marriage to make sure you’re on the same page for saving, spending, and financial wellness with Lara McElderry of the Married to Doctors podcast and special guest host Cassie Michael from The Thrifty Couple.
Why Couples Fight About Money
According to statistics, money is the number one topic that couples fight about. Generally, the source of the fighting comes down to three key issues: math, emotions, and values.
When couples fight about money because of the math, the issue usually stems from the numbers not adding up. You may find that you’re unable to pay the bills or that things just aren’t adding up at the end of the month when you do your budget.
When fights about money are emotion-based, the issue is more about why people spend money. For example, living outside of your means to fit in with a social group or using “retail therapy” as a way to boost your mood.
Another reason couples fight about money is their values. If there’s a difference between the two people’s values and what matters to them, this can translate into money issues. What one member of the partnership values may not be the same thing the other person values, creating an argument over spending money on things “that don’t matter.”
How to Stop Fighting About Money
When you find yourself in an argument about money with your spouse, the first step is to name the core issue. Are you fighting about values? Is it math? Are there emotions tied in? By identifying your core issue, you create a common target rather than projecting your issues on one another.
Once you have a common target, you can get back in the team mindset and discuss solutions to overcome the challenge at hand. You can start to brainstorm ideas that will create collaboration and determine a path forward.
It’s common for couples who fight about money to end up down the rabbit hole and get to a point where they don’t even know what they’re fighting about anymore. Identifying the core issue prevents this damaging tangent.
Making Time to Talk About Money
Another way to avoid fighting about money is through prevention. Schedule regular check-ins that double as neutral times where you can discuss potential purchases and realign on your goals.
Fighting about money can be habitual. By creating a habit loop and setting small goals to overcome the toxic cycle, you can create a healthy space for conversation. Remember, prevention is always better than repair.
Working with a Mediator
If you are chronically having fights with your partner about money, bring in a neutral third-party to act as mediator. You can work with a money coach, a pastor, or some other authoritative person who can provide objectivity.
Focus on the Positives
What you appreciate will appreciate, both in monetary investing and marriage. Find ways to show gratitude for the positives in your relationship and shift the focus away from money problems to the reasons you got together in the first place.
Income-Based Student Loan Repayment
It’s important to take time to learn about student loan repayment options beyond what’s covered in school. A lot of married couples start out with significant debt incurred during education, which causes a snowball effect down the road.
Income-based student loan repayment is just one of the options available. When you choose this option, your payments are scaled based on how much money you make so that it’s more manageable. There’s also a forgiveness period that will work for some long-term borrowers.