Do you and your spouse argue about money more than any other issue? While a certain amount of financial conflict in a marriage isn't out of the ordinary, there are certain money-related traps that couples can avoid to help prevent a number of financial spats.
Here are our top four:
#1: Not getting it out in the open
One of the best things you can do when it comes to finances, is to be honest. Transparency allows you both to get it all out on the table - the good, the bad, and the ugly - and tackle it head-on, together. For example, nothing is gained by keeping a large amount of credit card debt hidden from your spouse, or the fact that you have substantial income tax liabilities.
#2: Not creating a budget
This may seem like an obvious thing to do. However, not every couple knows how to budget or has a written plan for tracking income and expenses. Creating a budget allows you both to see where your hard-earned money is actually going and any expenses that you may be able to cut.
#3: Avoiding financial conflict
Want to keep the peace in your relationship? Then be sure to address those sensitive money issues that are nagging at you. For example, is your spouse overspending even though you have agreed to cut back and eliminate credit card debt? Avoiding conflict by ignoring the elephant in the room can actually escalate the problem, making matters worse. When you don't openly discuss money issues in an effort to avoid conflict, you miss an opportunity to resolve the problem before it worsens.
#4: Waiting until it's too late
Important matters such as building up an emergency fund, putting together a retirement plan, and getting life insurance are too critical to put off. Getting your “financial house” in order as couple should include a thorough review of your insurance policies - auto, home, and life. And, don't forget to check on any benefits that you may have at work such as disability and healthcare. The key is to identify any gaps in coverage and to make sure that what you have is up to date. The fact is, life changes and your insurance needs change along with you.
As your family grows, you will want to ensure you have a good handle on the family finances. For this reason, it's a good idea to start putting good financial habits and communications in place now for strong family finances for years to come.