Money is a reliable source of tension in relationships, in both married couples and those not yet in wedded bliss. Karin Mizgala wrote an article in the Canadian Financial Post with suggestions about how couples can ward off money problems. She says:
While talking about money can be often be more difficult and emotionally charged than talking about sex, religion or politics, a simple conversation about money can save you a lot of tension and resentments throughout married life.
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Below, we've expanded on Karin's tips and come up with six steps to ensuring a financially successful union. Are You Financially Compatible?
1. Each person makes a list of their expenses. This includes regular monthly costs, like rent, groceries and the gym; major purchases you hope to make, say, a new car or flat screen TV; occasional expenses like clothing, restaurants and iced lattes; and a bit of padding for expenses you can't account for.
1. Make a money date. That is, schedule a time to talk about your finances. If you can't do this, well, you're stuck before you can really start. You may want to bring in a third party—a financial planner or therapist—to help you move forward.
2. At the money date go over each person's list and decide which are joint expenses (rent, if you live together) and which are not (a new purse). Some of them might not be so obvious (tickets to a baseball game? cable bill?).
3. Decide if you want to merge your finances. If you do, go to step 4. If you want to keep your finances separate, make sure you agree on which expenses are definitely joint, and how you want to split them. Are you going to keep everything 50/50, or split it another way? Will you each pay part of each bill? Will you each pay separate bills, and write each other checks at the end of the month? After you've nailed down how you'll divvy up shared expenses, skip to step 6.Love, Money & Commitment: The Life Of An Un-Wife
4. Set up a joint bank account. Direct all your money into this account and pay shared monthly expenses from here.
5. Set up four other accounts and decide how much money you want to go in each: long-term investments, short-term shared (movies, travel, emergencies), and two personal accounts for individual, non-shared money. On this last set of accounts you can each receive an equal amount or split it depending on how much each of you contributes. Split The Bills Without Splitting Up
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6. This is the last, and most important step. Don't criticize how the other person spends his or her money!
Mizgala calls these personal, discretionary accounts "marriage saver" accounts, because having your own money to spend as you like can stop potential money arguments from ever starting. Poll: In A Marriage, Whose Money Is It Anyway?