Attention, couples: Here's how to avoid these common money mistakes

USA Today Finance 1 month ago

Finding someone to share your life means figuring out how to share your money. Money fights can cause big problems and put an end to your romance quickly. 

The love you share for your partner is priceless, so don't let money matters undermine trust or cause fights that kill the romance. You can have as much fun sharing your financial lives as you will sharing the rest of your lives.

The good news is that you don't have to make these common money mistakes. Here are some tips for avoiding four of the big financial management faux pas that could put your love at risk.

1. Financial infidelity

Financial infidelity is a common problem. In a recent survey by The Ascent, 71% of respondents admitted they'd been financially unfaithful to their partner. 

Financial infidelity can happen because partners don't agree about purchases or spending. When that happens, one or both people in the relationship could go behind the back of the other. This undermines trust, leads to fights, and makes future money compromises harder to reach.

Financial infidelity can be avoided if both partners are willing to be open and honest. That means both people need to foster an environment where this type of communication is rewarded. If either party feels backed into a corner and forced to lie, it could be the beginning of the end. Don't put your partner in this position.

Instead, commit early on to finding compromises and ways to make money decisions that work for both of you. 

2. Lack of communication 

Communication isn't just key to avoiding financial infidelity – it's essential to achieving joint financial goals and avoiding fights about all sorts of money issues. 

Unfortunately, many couples put off talking about finances – especially if they're a source of stress. Or they don't know how to talk in a nonjudgmental way that makes both partners happy with financial decisions.

To avoid this mistake, talk about money early in your relationship and have regular discussions about financial issues. Schedule "money dates" weekly or monthly to

  • go over your budget and spending,
  • make sure you're on the same page about your financial goals, and
  • check in with each other's progress. 

The more you talk about money, the better you'll get at these conversations and the less often fights will occur. 

3. Trying to control your partner's spending

Hiding purchases was the most common type of financial infidelity on The Ascent's survey. And it's no wonder so many hide spending from spouses or partners – the same survey also found that 65% of men and 47% of women have wanted to own an item their relationship prevents them from having. 

There may be some lines that can't be crossed when it comes to spending – like going way over budget or buying dangerous or illegal items. But, for the most part, partners need to trust each other and treat each other as adults. This means giving each person the leeway to spend money as long as the spending doesn't compromise other financial goals. 

Both partners need to remember that just because they think a purchase is silly or unnecessary doesn't mean their beloved does. Indulge each other's hobbies and interests (within reason) and provide some fun money for each person to spend on anything with no questions asked. 

4. Judging your partner's money management skills

Obviously, some behaviors – such as racking up tons of credit card debt – can't be considered acceptable in a relationship. When either partner is too irresponsible, this can put joint goals such as retiring, having children or buying a house at risk. 

But judging or blaming your partner for bad money decisions is unlikely to lead to a change in behavior. Instead, it's important for both people in the relationship to understand where the other is coming from. One partner may be overspending because he or she feels too constrained, for example, or because they aren’t really on board with a budget that was forced upon them. 

Instead of being judgmental, work together to understand each other's individual money styles. Then set joint goals you both buy into so each partner is on board with the sacrifices and trade-offs necessary to achieve them. 

The Motley Fool owns and recommends MasterCard and Visa, and recommends American Express. We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule. If we wouldn’t recommend an offer to a close family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Ascent either. Our number one goal is helping people find the best offers to improve their finances. That is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.

The Motley Fool is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news, analysis and commentary designed to help people take control of their financial lives. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

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