A major concern of couples today is how to stop money stress in their relationship. Do marriage counselors provide money management advice? Maybe they should. According to MarriageAdvice.com, 43% of all couples argue about moolah. Sometimes, it involves one spouse being a more conservative investor than the other.
Sue and Chris provide a wonderful example. They are a hard-working couple in their mid-thirties who could not stop fighting about money. Sue was a big risk taker – she loved to take flyers on speculative stocks. Chris, on the other hand was terrified of any investment that wasn’t FDIC insured. The dispute threatened their marriage. What steps could they take to bridge this gulf ? What can you do if you find yourself in a similar situation?
Here are some ideas on how to stop money stress in your relationship .
1. Give the risk-taker mad money to play with.
If your spouse likes to investigate mutual fund holdings and get crazy with stocks, let him do it. The amount should be reasonable and mutually agreed upon. It should be an amount that both are comfortable losing completely. Both spouses should agree that no more than this amount will be made available. That means if the Risky Rich loses the dough, that’s it. Game over. If the aggressive strategy works, both parties benefit. If it does not, it’s possible that the more aggressive spouse will have learned a lesson and be willing to take a more realistic approach to investing.
2. If you are the Conservative Cathy, educate yourself.
If you are the conservative partner whose idea of a good investment is the mattress or the backyard, it’s time to face facts. Your partner is right when he says you need to grow your money. As painful as the current investment climate is, the reality is that if you have long-term goals, you need to have long-term investments. I know it does not feel good now. But think about it. Your partner is taking too much risk, right? You’re asking your partner to face reality. Shouldn’t your partner be able to ask them same from you?
3. If all else fails, split the assets – not the marriage.
If you can’t see eye-to-eye after considering the first two steps, split assets up and manage the money as each sees fit. If you have trouble splitting this up, consider reviewing community property laws. That will indicate who should control how much.
Another way to do this is by allowing each spouse to manage their own retirement accounts. The most important ingredient for success here is making sure that each partner agrees that they will not interfere with the other. The “non-proliferation” agreement is the important element for success here. And no kidding, it might be good to get this agreement in writing.
My experience is that if you have a mutually agreed upon financial plan and stick to it, these fights won’t materialize. Create your own plan or meet with your adviser to hammer this out. If you start from a position of being crystal clear on what your mutual goals are over a specific time period and what’s most important about money to you, you’ll find it an easier exercise.
What about you? What is your secret? What tips can you share to help us avoid the financial fights?