Financial difficulties or money problems is often cited as a contributor for divorce. Is it true that money ruins people and now it is ruining marriages?
Money itself does not ruin a marriage, but it is a hot button and can create tension in a marriage. Because money is tied to almost everything- house expenses, food, entertainment- it can easily put a strain when a couple does not agree on how to manage the finances.
One of the biggest mistakes in a marriage is infidelity. And financial infidelity is a big problem. Financial infidelity is when a couples hide where they spend their money from their spouse. First off, any secrecy is a relationship is bad news and financial secrecy has some serious negative affects. If you have a secret credit card to hide purchases, you are going to erode trust which is essential for a happy marriage. The danger of a secret bank account or a hidden credit card is that it can easily spin into out of control debt. The best way to avoid financial infidelity is to track ALL spending together. My favorite site to use is mint.com. You give the site (secured, of course) access to all of your financial accounts and it tracks your spending. You can create budgets and track your progress.
Money tends to drive a wedge in between couples who do not share the same personal beliefs about how money should be spent. A saver and a spender will constantly be at odds over what to purchase and how much to save. Personalities are hard to change, so both must compromise. Every couple should sit down at least once a month to discuss short- and long-term goals to make sure your spending is in alignment of both of those goals. One spouse might think it is a waste of money to buy life insurance, while the other makes it a priority. Set aside a “slush” budget to satisfy the spender’s excitement for shopping while also maintaining a savings goal to make the saver happy. By continually revisiting your long term goals, you will be likely to spend accordingly.
That being said, many Americans are not even saving at all. Even if you are struggling to make ends meet, you need to devise a plan to save and get out of debt. The strain on a marriage caused by an unexpected expense can be tough. But it is infinitely worse when neither of you have savings to help cover that cost. If you are financially able, visit with a financial planner with both of you to discuss realistic goals and retirement plans. The sooner, the better.
Couples often make the mistake of enforcing gender roles when it comes to money. Husbands make and take care of the money, pay the bills and keep track of the financial records. Whoever primarily takes care of those duties, you need to make it more of a partnership. What would happen if something happened to the spouse who pays the bills?