Money Help: Just in time for Valentine’s Day

Couples today are often more comfortable talking about sex than money—and they may be more compatible sexually than financially. Creating budgets and living within your means may not seem romantic, but new research (yes, I’m all about research) may convince you that the state of your financial affairs directly and profoundly impacts your love life.

If this subject has been on your marriage’s back burner, think about scheduling time with your sweetie in the next month to discuss your financial goals and outstanding debt, and to agree on upcoming expenses. My blogging pal, Brad Chaffee at EnemyofDebt.com, is offering some useful tools to help you get your financial house in order at Manage Your Money.

Why should you care about money in your marriage? First, you can reduce the number of disagreements you have by setting and using a budget. Second, you can improve the happiness in your marriage by reducing debt and living simply. If you don’t believe me, listen to the experts:

A study just released by Matt Bell and Synavate concludes that couples who use a budget are less likely to have financial fights. Nearly 40% of married couples say they argue about money, but when they have a budget, those disagreements go down by 11%. The financial topics most married couples argue about are spending (49%), debt (33%) savings (26%), investing (15%) and donating (10%). Stop fighting and start making joint decisions about these matters.

The New York Times reports couples burdened with credit card debt are more likely to experience marital difficulty. The newspaper reported on the research of Jeffrey Dew of the National Marriage Project. Dew’s report Bank On It: Thrifty Couples are the Happiest says “consumer debt plays a powerful role in eroding the quality of married life.” While assets solidify ties between spouses and protect against divorce, debt puts a strain on all marriages, whether they have high or low incomes. If one perceives his or her spouse of not handling money well, lower happiness is rated in the marriage. And viewing one’s spouse as a foolish spender increases odds of divorce by 45%.

Dew says money fights last longer and escalate higher than other topics, and men tend to take financial conflict particularly hard. That may be why he says financial conflict predicts divorce better than other types of disagreement. The good news is that the American recession has made debt-reduction and savings-accumulation chic again, and resources abound. It’s up to you to use the tools available. “Clearly, money matters play a crucial role in shaping the quality and stability of married life in the U.S.,” says Dew. “In particularly, couples who are wise enough to steer clear of materialism and consumer debt are much more likely to enjoy connubial bliss.”

Read the next post once you have decided to pursue financial freedom.

 How about it, ready to talk green to preserve your marital harmony? Or it just too hard to face those mounting credit card bills?

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7 responses to “Money Help: Just in time for Valentine’s Day

  1. Thank you so much for the mention Lori! Much appreciated! :)

  2. I guess we don’t completely fit the statistics. We rarely had conflicst about money until we started the Dave Ramsey course (FPU) last year. I suppose it was because we pretty much bought whatever we wanted. Now that we are budgeting more strictly we have to actually be disciplined about it. Much harder!

    However, with that said, we have been able to significantly reduce our discretionary spending (almost 25%!) by putting the extra effort into it. I’d definitely have to say it is worth it. Gaining the sense that we are controlling our money instead of the other way around does reduce financial stress in our house.

    • Scott, I’ve heard great things about the Dave Ramsey course! I’m sure it wouldn’t be easy to go from buying what you want to a disciplined spending plan, but congratulations on your impressive progress. Anyone who wishes to have financial freedom should hear you say the pain was worth it. Take care.

  3. Hi Lori!

    This was a great post!

    I read once that, despite all of the typical reasons given for the survival of otherwise good relationships, there are two key ingredients that make or break them – Sex and Money.

    If either of these two, instinctual and foundational aspects of a relationship are on shaky ground, then all of the others may just come tumbling down. And compatibility in these two areas can overcome problems in many other areas of the relationship.

    I know that this is over-simplified. But it rang true with me as a good rule of thumb.

    Thanks for the opportunity to comment! Your blog is fantastic!

    All the best,

    Hugh

    • Thanks, Hugh. Perhaps that is why communication and conflict management skills are so important–to address incompatibility especially in these two areas. I appreciate your feedback!

  4. Pingback: Love your enemies – and your bride – Redux | Daily Generous Husband Tips

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