Is Your Partner Your Financial Downfall?

Is Your Partner Your Financial Downfall? 

iStock_000019830754_Medium“Spending is the second most common reason why couples fight, according to a SmartMoney survey. What usually happens, is that one spouse gets labeled the “spender” –Ruth Hayden, author of For Richer, Not Poorer: The Money Book for Couples.

[Related: 4 Ways to Protect Your Nest Egg in Retirement]

Is your partner your financial downfall? If you have ever checked your joint bank account statement at the end of the month and are confused as to what some of the purchases are, you are not alone. Sixty-four percent of couples put all of their money in joint accounts, and many identify one person in the relationship as a spender. While it may feel comforting to know you are not the only person facing this, studies also show that husbands and wives typically spend about the same throughout the year but on different things.

Instead of feeling like your partner is ruining your financial lives, come together to create new financial processes and solutions for your relationship.

Create a spending account.

No one wants to feel like they are being watched for every dollar they spend. Consider keeping your joint accounts for things such as bills, savings, and activities for the kids, but create separate accounts for spending with an agreed upon amount for each of you. This way you both have the liberty to save or spend how you like, but from a limited amount of money and with no chance to overspend or short the bill money.

Set some ground rules.

Agree to a few parameters for your household. Discuss whether it’s OK for one person to decide to save all their personal money and make a large purchase without consulting the other. It’s not about asking for permission, it’s about promoting and maintaining a healthy level of communication with your spouse.

Be transparent.

The purpose of a personal spending account is not an excuse to keep financial secrets. If you purchased something new for $500 and you saved to buy it, don’t lie and tell your spouse it only cost $150. You also don’t want to use your personal spending account as a way to hide debt. All debts should be paid from the joint account, which means both parties need to be aware of its existence. The same goes for income, there should be no bypassing of the joint account for your personal spending. All of these situations breed financial mistrust, which is extremely damaging to relationships long term.

Do you and your spouse fight over spending? Would any of these suggestions help your situation? Tell us about it in the comments below.