You know the drill: You try to bring up the budget with your spouse and pretty soon, you've erupted into a full-on battle. But while money is an emotionally charged subject, it doesn't have to incite World War III in your home. In fact, if you make money a common topic in your marriage, you might be able to fit in the conversation more often without all of the drama. Marriage and finance can go hand-in-hand as long as you're willing to exercise patience, compromise and communicate to really make it work. Here's how.
Before you start arguing about how to save for a new home or paying off huge debts, get down to the very basics. Sit down together and find out where you stand financially. That means pulling the last few months of expenditures and pay stubs, along with ordering your annual free credit report from each of the major bureaus. You can't talk money unless you have a clear picture of where you are currently. Knowing your current credit score, understanding debt and understanding income can all help you make better decisions together, without one spouse holding all of the cards.
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Talking about money can cause arguments, so setting the mood with the right time and right place can help reduce some of the stress of talking marriage and finance. Obviously, bringing up your strained budget in front of friends and family is not a good idea, but so is pouncing on the issue when you spouse is already tired and stressed about funds. Instead, wait until you're both calm and ready to talk about money in a quiet, private place without distractions. Get rid of the phones and turn off the TV so you can both focus on the issue at hand.
Remember that there's no one perfect way to handle money in a marriage. What works for your friends or your parents might not work in your situation. That's why it's important to be open to new solutions and compromises that you haven't considered before. For instance, you might consider separating your bank accounts if sharing one seems too stressful. While it might not be your parents' way of doing things, an out-of-the-box solution could be the answer to your problems. Just make sure you're willing to listen and concede a little when working with your partner.
If you're really stuck in a battle and can't see a way out, it may be time to call in extra reinforcement. No, not your nosy friend or your husband's sister - an actual financial planner that can help you manage through your financial issues. A financial planner can work with both of you to help you plan paying off debt, investing money and managing your household funds so you feel more in control and less like it's you versus your spouse. With the right solution in place, money discussions no longer have to be a guaranteed fight in your home, but rather a regular - and calm - discussion.
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