By Claire Emory
You likely hear all the time about how much couples spend on each other, the kinds of gifts they buy and how all of us can save money delighting our significant others. Less well-known: Most people actually find a mate more attractive if that person freely talks about personal finances.
Credit bureau Experian surveyed married couples last year and found that 73% of women and 60% of men find their spouse more attractive when he or she is willing to talk about personal finances. Financial responsibility topped “career ambition” and “physical attractiveness” in importance to compatibility, the survey added.
Especially desirable money qualities included budgeting, punctual bill payment and knowledge of one’s own credit score. Two in five surveyed said household finances are a shared responsibility, and the average respondent was willing to spend $812 before discussing the purchase with his or her spouse.
Additional polls find that fights about money cause some of the biggest frictions in marriage and thatthrifty couples are the happiest.
Of course no one can say exactly what leads to all fights about money in relationships. Subjects are limitless. For starters, at the beginning of your time together do you completely combine your financesor keep certain money matters separate?
In this and most money topics, come to a consensus.
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If two people decide to marry or move in together and ignore financial issues, a day likely looms when they must talk about money; sweeping financial considerations under the rug can only make that inevitable day more difficult.
Perhaps some of these arguments ignite when one half of a couple does not want to discuss money and the other half does.
Whichever side you’re on, here are some ways to diffuse tension:
If you prefer to not discuss money:
* Consider what keeps you from being open about money. Is it fear?
* What can your partner do to make the subject easier for you to discuss?
* Does knowing that a willingness to discuss money might make you more attractive inspire you to make more effort toward such a discussion?
If your partner is reluctant to discuss money:
* Any idea why your spouse won’t discuss money?
* Do you possibly try to discuss finances at bad times?
* What can you do to alleviate tension when the topic comes up?
Sit down together to set a spending strategy and work out how much each person will contribute to household expenses. You also need to know how much you spend to pay bills and to keep your household running.
To better understand where your money goes, you and your partner can track outlays for a specified time, such as a week or a month. Keep receipts for every expense or a journal of what you spend, as well as where and on what. Note what you spend on items for the household (food or paper products, for instance) and what you both spend on discretionary items, such as clothing or lunch out.
Sure it’s work — what in a relationship isn’t, really? If you commit to the effort, though, you may find that both your financial outlook and your partnership benefit. In fact, financial planning can keep your romance alive.
Claire Emory, CFP, CFA, RIA, owns and operates Clarity Financial Planning LLC in Arlington, Va.
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