1. Separate accounts. Many couples think if they keep their money separate they can avoid any tension about money. There may be certain times when separate accounts work for a couple, e.g. business account and personal account, education account or surprise gift account — monies you temporarily use to treat the other without them knowing right away. Frankly, you can have 15 different accounts if you're transparent with each other about every one. But maintaining entirely separate accounts usually leads to entirely separate lives.
2. Overspending and debt. In March 2013, Bloomberg.com reported, "Disposable income, or the money left over after taxes, dropped 4 percent after adjusting for inflation, the biggest plunge since monthly records began in 1959," yet consumer spending for the same timeframe rose.
We work hard. Sometimes we feel we need a tangible reward for that hard work and we're optimistic we can pay it off later. Then other expenses pop up and our debt grows. That's when the secrets start; we start lying about spending, hiding receipts and borrowing to cover our money mistakes. It's a vicious cycle.
3. Poor planning. Kids grow up fast, some small businesses never turn the corner and somehow retirement age gets closer every year! The desperation of little-to-no retirement or college funds or even a rainy day fund leads people in relationships to point fingers and take drastic measures, often in isolation. Avoid the blame game and the temptation to fix it on your own. Work together or your lack of funds won't be the only hurdle you face in retirement. Keep reading ...
4. One-sided control. If there is one person in your relationship who controls all of the money, we can pretty much guarantee financial infidelity in the relationship. It indicates a lack of trust, respect and partnership. Both people spend money and need money to make the household run; both need to be involved in controlling the funds. Mr. Mustang himself, Henry Ford said, "Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success."
5. Keeping secrets, large or small. Money secrets destroy relationships. Much like sexual infidelity starts out with small flirtations and grows into a poisonous affair, financial infidelity may start small or unintentionally.
The good news is financial infidelity can be overcome and stopped dead in its tracks. The debt may be there, bad habits may need to be dealt with but a known evil is an easier dragon to slay together than a toxic secret lurking in the dark.
Approach your new relationships, and old, with the desire to work together and discuss your money openly. Your relationships will profit.
The Money Couple®
Scott & Bethany Palmer