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You're In It Together: Talking to Your Partner About Money

Ask any couple what they fight about, and most will tell you "money". It's a hot-button topic with almost everyone, partly because it so directly affects the way we live our lives.

But there are things you can actively do to make sure you and your partner work towards the same financial goals, even if you deal with money differently. And if you approach it the right way, it doesn't always have to be a struggle.

Learn to talk about finances

the way you would any important part of your relationship � the same way you'd talk about children, religion, or your major life goals.

Develop a plan.

Having a plan can help you avoid fights, and help you make your financial discussions more productive. There are a few things to keep in mind when you start to have financial discussions that can make the process less painful.

Establish the right atmosphere.

Have your discussions in a place where there won't be any interruptions, and at a time when you aren't stressed out.

  • Agree to try to see each other's point of view. They're both important, after all.
  • Don't play the blame game, and avoid labeling. Calling each other a "spender" or a "saver" isn't productive, nor does it help you work through your challenges.
  • Be honest.
  • If the conversation becomes heated or isn't productive, stop.

Cover essential topics

in your discussions, and reach consensus on your big financial goals, like paying off debt, saving for a house, or retirement. Once you both agree about what's important to you as a couple, you can start to plan how you're going to achieve your goals.

  • Develop a budget - one that works for everyone in the house, including the kids and dog.
  • Agree about what classifies as a "want" and what's a "need", then prioritize your expenses accordingly.
  • Create a savings program that you can both live with. Pay yourself first, by putting money into savings right off the top.
  • Agree about where you'll cut back. Review your budget together regularly, and keep discussing your expenses.

When you have a plan

in place, you can start to put it into action. Talk about who's going to do what, and don't be afraid to switch responsibilities once in a while. It's good for both of you to have a clear picture of your finances. Decide:

  • Who is responsible for balancing the checkbook.
  • Who pays the bills.
  • Who takes money from the ATM.
  • Who looks for opportunities to save money, like clipping coupons, spotting sales, or taking advantage of discounts.
  • How you'll work together to track your spending and make sure you stick to your budget.

Above all, during the entire process, be cheerleaders for each other. You're in it together, and you're both contributing to your future success. Congratulate each other, and watch your financial fitness improve!

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