I recently told a friend of mine that marriage is like a series of negotiations that are ongoing… because my wife Sam will most likely read this I will admit that more often than not I am on the losing end of those negotiations. In my experience from working with clients for many years, I can safely say that fighting over money is a pretty common thing in most marriages. First and foremost, I am here to tell you that it’s ok. But there are ways to prepare yourself and work better with your partner, so the fights become less frequent or less heated. When it comes to money there are a lot of things that can be fought about, some of the more common arguments I have seen are around spending habits, saving habits, and control of the money.
Spending habit arguments is a familiar one in my home. Admittedly, we don’t fight about the large expenses as that is usually a collaborative approach. Frankly, most of our money fights have occurred at the grocery store over $2… which yes, I know is ridiculous but needless to say grocery delivery has done wonders for our relationship! Fighting overspending habits doesn’t have to be caused by one partner being a shopaholic, it simply can come from a difference in priorities on how money should be spent. My advice is simply to have a discussion and get everything out in the open about how you both want to prioritize money. Talk about the fights you have had in the past and get it into the open so that you can come to an understanding. On your end, do your best to have an open mind and be patient. The reality is, there will be things that your partner wishes to spend money on that is not a priority for you and vice versa. Prepare yourself for that.
Couples don’t only fight overspending habits, they also often disagree about how much to save as well. This typically comes from the balance between living for today and saving for tomorrow. For example, your spouse may very much be an experience driven person. They love to travel, being active and taking advantage of opportunities today. You may be more focussed on planning for financial freedom down the road. This can cause a discrepancy on how much you think should be allocated to long- and short-term savings and vice versa. Another situation I have encountered is when couples keep their banking and finances separate and do not discuss it. Full disclosure, I believe that there is nothing wrong with keeping things separated but it can cause an imbalance in savings which could be inefficient for your planning and taxes. To avoid these conflicts in the future I recommend creating common goals, both short and long term. Sit down with each other and map out how you want to live your lifestyle today and in the future. Do not worry so much about numbers at first, stick to discussing the specific goals you have and maybe even enjoy the process of dreaming big. Once you agree on the goals, you can then allocate the funds appropriately going forward.
Who controls the money in your house? When it comes to the finances, I often see that one person takes more control than the other. This can work for many couples, but it can also create issues as the other partner may be left out of the loop. Issues can also arise if one spouse oversteps and tries to take over more of the financial decisions than the other is comfortable with. A common mistake that I often see (and commit myself sometimes) is assuming that your partner is not interested and therefore doesn’t care. Financial decisions impact both of you and so it is important to ensure that even if you are the primary financial person in the relationship, that you keep your partner in the loop. This is especially important because if something happens to you, your partner should feel comfortable in knowing who they can turn to for guidance and support.
Personal finance is the biggest cause of stress between most couples but I have found that many of the issues can be handled with open and honest communication. Sometimes it’s best to have a mediator involved as well as in your financial planner or another trusted professional if needed. Either way, I try to live by what is likely the best advice my Dad ever gave me, “Happy wife, happy life”.
-Grant White, CIM®, CFP®
Grant White is a Portfolio Manager/Investment Advisor at Endeavour Wealth Management with Industrial Alliance Securities Inc, an award-winning office as recognized by the Carson Group. Together with his partners he provides comprehensive wealth management planning for business owners, professionals and individual families.
This information has been prepared by Grant White who is a Portfolio Manager for Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (iA Securities) and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of iA Securities. The information contained in this newsletter comes from sources we believe reliable, but we cannot guarantee its accuracy or reliability. The opinions expressed are based on an analysis and interpretation dating from the date of publication and are subject to change without notice. Furthermore, they do not constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any of the securities mentioned. The information contained herein may not apply to all types of investors. The Portfolio Manager can open accounts only in the provinces in which they are registered.