Money can be a dividing or uniting force in relationships. To stay on speaking terms and avoid heated confrontations, couples can closely look at their income and expenses and devise a plan to contribute to their expenses. When both partners have compromised on how much each will contribute to household and other shared expenses, a portion of each individual’s income can be put aside for his or her personal interests. Couples that learn to compromise on money-related issues are on their way to achieving relationship harmony.
Quantify all expenses that a couple incurs together as a unit. Expenses such as rent or mortgage payments, utility expenses and childcare are examples of costs that couples should analyze together. Determine whether the costs are reasonable or whether the expenses can be lowered by implementing changes.
Evaluate each partner’s personal expenses and how much of that person's income is spent on these items. This could be another heated conversation, so it’s important for each partner to withhold criticism against the other and understand the partner's personal interests. Each partner should agree that shared and important household expenses should take priority over expenses involving personal interests, especially if money is tight. Money spent on expensive golf clubs or spa treatments is not necessarily a waste of money, as long as more critical expenses are being met. Each partner should agree to modify spending habits if the couple is experiencing a shortage of money for critical household expenses.
Evaluate each partner’s source of income and what portion of it is being saved and/or invested. Make time to have a thorough conversation on this issue and keep the focus on income-related matters; don’t bring other issues to the table that can be discussed at another time. Couples with “money issues” tend to blame money for other problems that exist in the relationship; go into the conversation with the mindset that you're going t avoid this scenario. Each partner can determine possible ways to increase income and savings and discuss investment options.
Create an income distribution plan and arrive at a compromise on who will pay for what. In a perfect world, each partner would contribute 50 percent of all expenses. Unfortunately, compromising on the payment of expenses is a more challenging endeavor. This can be complicated even further when an income disparity exists between partners. Depending on the relationship, this conversation can be an uncomfortable one and the issues discussed may have to be revisited several times before a compromise is reached.
Stick with the plan as long as it’s working and revise it as needed. Revisit the plan when changes occur in income and expenses or other money-related issues. If your financial situation has not changed, review the plan on an annual basis and discuss if improvements are needed. Make certain that changes made are agreed to by both partners.
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