We all know how to fight dirty. Especially over money. But do you know how to fight over money where you get your way and your partner is happy too? Let’s face it, it takes two to tango. Keep these fight suggestions in mind next time the dollars and boxing gloves come out!
What is the Consolation Prize?
We all think our money decisions are the most important and should have priority. Agree to disagree and then decide on a dollar amount of each of you. For example, a couple I worked with each wanted to spend something specific every month that the other didn’t deem worthwhile. She loved to get massages and he loved to buy fishing gear. When we worked through their budget together, we came up with a specific amount they could afford to spend on those items each month: $100 each. It took the pain away when she got a massage a few times a month and he came home with another $300 fishing pole she thought they didn’t need. Each of you should walk away with some sort of a consolation prize.
See the numbers in Black and White.
Sometimes you don’t even know what you are fighting for. For example, you say you want to save for retirement but your spouse doesn’t feel as strongly and then you don’t do anything and are angry. Well, if you used an online financial calculator together or went through the exercise with a financial advisor, you might see that to retire at age 65, you should be saving $1,700 a month. Right away, you notice that between both of your 401ks, you are already saving $1,000 a month. Maybe you won’t save the $1,700 but you can easily find the extra $300-400 a month to jump you to the next level. This can also be applied to buying a home. Seeing the actual numbers, such as how much you need for downpayment, how much interest rates are, or how much your new mortgage payment will be, can help make a decision if you should buy a home or not. Fight averted, next topic!
See a Professional.
It is amazing how much difference it makes to get a third party’s perspective. I recently saw a couple that really needed help saving more money. Not that most situations are so one-sided but it was mostly a function of her bad spending habits. While she was able to take the responsibility in front of me, she also was open to trying to spend differently – which it sounds like she wasn’t open to do with her husband. I gave her the options of using cash only and really walking her through prioritizing her spending. She took taxis everywhere because she was an artist and had to carry her work. We talked about buying a car, which actually made more sense in the long run. We also discussed buying ready made food instead of ordering in every night. It was a huge relief to her and both she and her husband, separately, sent me an email thanking them afterwards for helping them move forward.
Put yourself in their shoes.
Sometimes fights arise because you don’t really know what they are going through. For example, change who pays the bills one month. Or schedule an appointment with your accountant or financial advisor by yourself. You will see your finances in a whole new light.