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Financial Battles Don't Have to Lead to War

Financial Battles Don't Have to Lead to War

It only takes one wild shopping and spending binge to set into motion what could end up being all out war over money and money management.

With “money” problems leading the list of topics couples or families fight about most, crossing wires over mismanagement of money can be a significant contributor to marital or familial strife.

Depending upon how you’ve structured your finances, some couples end up visiting and then revisiting the same topic of discussion, turning money arguments into a financial Groundhog Day scenario of sorts.

If you’ve hit the wall every time the topic of finances or financial management comes up, knowing how to address it and then arriving at a mutually agreed upon resolution will be your only way to peaceful resolution.

What Does Money Mean To You?

Beyond the understanding that money is a necessity to living an independent life, life coach and public speaker, Kimberly Giles writes that couples should figure out what money literally means to you and to your spouse.

In some cases, people think that spending or having money says more about you to society and that the more you have, the more favorably you will be viewed. For others, having money on hand translates to security, peace of mind and freedom. And for some, making or having a lot of money ends up being a scorecard or a way to “keep up with the Jones” or even surpass peers, which may provide a feeling of power.

Although you may feel embarrassed to admit that buying luxury items makes you feel powerful or believe that spending money can abate mental pain (or even boredom), being completely honest as an individual will get you on the path to truthful communication and ultimately to a mutual understanding.

Face Your Money Fear

Once you know what money means to you, you need to come to terms with which aspect of money management and/or spending evokes fear or anxiety.

Obviously constant spending, especially if you don’t have an endless supply of money is worrisome because then you won’t have enough money to pay bills or save for important events such as retirement.

Also, if half of the couple is coming from a place of austerity and trying to conserve and save, while the other half spends money as fast as it comes in; clearly you have a serious imbalance in attitude.

In some cases, the person who is overspending money may be doing so to fill a void or possibly trying to impress others. In other cases, the spender may not be the earner and does not have a true idea of the family’s financial situation.

Either way, both parties will need to honestly state their fear with money, which could include the fear of being controlled (or allowing money to have power over them), running out of money, not preparing for the future or even the loss of freedom because of being restricted on what you can and cannot purchase.

Again, honesty is the best policy with this meeting, as it will help you to compare and discuss your personal meaning of money versus your financial fears.

How Do You Fix the Problem?

Before you can move forward and implement a plan, you should address the fears and what money means to you with your partner.

In cases where money has taken a larger role of power, loss of freedom or social status, spending habits may be a conduit of a bigger issue. In these cases, coming to a mutual understanding and implementing a budget may not be a final or effective solution if one partner is using money to fill a psychological void. If spending habits are extreme, consulting with a therapist or psychologist to work through the reason why money has taken on a larger level may be the best way to start your money resolution.

If you were having a misunderstanding on finances or you never really discussed how you wanted to live and spend your money, you can collaborate on a plan that allows both parties to give a little and take a little towards resolution.

Megan Sterns, credit counselor at Purdue Federal Credit Union ($900 million, West Lafayette, IN) says that opening the lines of communications is vital to arriving at an agreement.

“This means communicating about financial decisions big and small, sharing a checking account, and sharing responsibility for paying bills,” Sterns says.

“Setting aside money in the monthly budget as no questions asked spending money for each member of the couple can also help prevent fights about money,” she continues. “Many times money problems result because one member of the couple is completely oblivious to their finances.”

She adds that couples should use a shared app or website to keep track of the budget and accounts, in order to prevent making one individual responsible for the household finances.

Giles warns that couples should never fight about money when a specific fear is ignited. Couples should arrive at mutually agreed-upon rules and a budget, be honest and create a plan to erase debt and start saving.

Of course credit union credit counselors like Sterns at Purdue Federal can also help guide you and your family from financial despair. Inquire about credit counseling at your local credit union or find a credit union.

By Gina Ragusa
Published May 26, 2015
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