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Money & Marriage: Are You Financially Compatible?

He likes to spend, she likes to save, but they have a joint goal of buying a house next year. Is that a problem? Financial stress is a prominent factor in many failed marriages, so it could be. Recognizing your different attitudes toward money, and supporting each other in positive ways can help relieve that stress.

How do we handle differences?

A December 2015 CNBC story offered this advice:

  • Agree to disagree. "Money disagreements are often more about priorities and trade-offs than they are about the actual money," said T. Rowe Price financial planner Stuart Ritter. "It's very common for couples to not be on the same page. 
    "Understand why something is important to your partner and understand why it's important to you," he added. "From that understanding, make the decisions and trade-offs that let you both feel comfortable." You may not be able to avoid arguments, but it is better to have a conversation than not talk about your financial dreams and concerns.
  • Be flexible. Having discussions where one spouse tries to persuade the other that his or her solution is the only way are not productive. Be willing to compromise. "If one spouse wants to continue to work for another few years and the other spouse retires, the retired spouse wants to spend more time in Florida, so they rent a place for a few months and the working spouse takes some long weekends so they can be together," suggested Lassus at Lassus Wherley. "It isn't an ideal solution, but it is a good compromise."
  • Focus on the future. Don't dwell on mistakes or challenges from the past or you may get stuck there. A 2015 survey by Fidelity Investments found that planning for the future goes a long way to achieving greater peace of mind and making sure you are on the same page as a couple. Consult with a financial advisor to help guide both of you. 

Talk about it

Starting any new relationship is difficult, but bringing finances into the conversation could make it even more stressful. Use these resources as a starting point for your money conversations so you can discuss who will handle finances, existing debt, and how you can be successful -- together:

Find more links in our monthly resource list as we continue our Love & Money series with discussions on marital finances in February. 

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Montana Credit Unions for Community Development (or MCUCD) is the award-winning, charitable arm of the Montana Credit Union Network. A state-wide nonprofit organization, MCUCD works together with the state's credit unions to improve the lives and financial independence of all Montanans.