Disagreeing about money is almost inevitable — but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. As an individual, you have priorities about what you want your money to do for you that may or may not line up with your spouse or partner (or parents or friends). What you need to learn is how to communicate your wishes in a way that's respectful of the fact that their priorities and wishes may not be on track with yours.
In our TODAY.com survey, 36 percent of our voters said that they fight most about having different money styles and 26 percent said they fight most about having different goals for money.
In the second part of the Her Two Cents TODAY series, we discussed some of the top fights women have about money — and some tips to handle disagreements.
FIGHT No.1: Saver vs. spender
Most of us make impulse purchases from time to time — some of us are wired to be savers and others to be spenders, according to research. What that means is that some people find spending money to generate pleasurable brain activity while others find it painful. (Spenders are the majority.) And research has shown tightwads and spendthrifts — to quote a 2012 paper published in the Journal of Marketing Research and entitled "Fatal Attraction" — tend to marry each other. (People look for qualities in their mates that they lack in themselves.)
If you fight about how your money is used, take a step back and map what you and your spouse want for this year, in five years and in ten years. Discuss how you can use your resources to help you reach your goals. Revisit your road map every three months or so to ensure that you are on track with your plan.
FIGHT No. 2: The power grab
Every family dynamic is different. One spouse may earn more than the other, or one spouse may be the only source of income for the family. It’s important to keep each person’s contribution to the family in mind and realize that even if they don’t bring in income, they bring value to the family dynamic and that can’t be replaced.
Each person should have some financial responsibility, whether it’s paying bills, being a point person for the accountant or managing a retirement account. In addition, each person should be able to spend an agreed upon amount of money without asking the other spouse. You can do this with joint accounts or you can choose to have separate accounts.
FIGHT No. 3: Caught in a lie
Almost everyone regrets or hides a purchase at some point. Sometimes, it may seem easier to hide the fact you bought something new or something you didn’t actually need. But, in reality, you are digging yourself a hole.
The lesson of Watergate applies here: The cover-up is almost always worse than the crime. The sooner you come clean, the better.
Try to have an open relationship with your spouse about money and what indulgences or interests you want to open your wallet for. As long as you are reaching your savings goals, both of you should have the freedom to purchase the items that make you happy. He may not understand your love of shoes and you may not respect his craft beer fetish, but at the end of the day, as long as you are being practical about purchases, who cares?
Try to have monthly conversations about money where you discuss whatever is on your mind. As long as you stay on track for reaching your goals, there should be no shame in investing in things you love!
FIGHT No. 4: Risk taker vs. risk avoider
If you are hesitant about investment risks or putting your money in areas that you can’t control, a financial road map can help you figure out how to reach your goals and manage your funds. You can chart your savings rate to see if you are in a good place and on track to pay off all of your debts.
If your spouse is intent on being more risky than what you are comfortable with, such as putting money into stocks, investing in startups or buying biticon, try to agree to a small percentage of your income that can be used for investment, like no more than 5 to 10 percent.
FIGHT No.5: Lending or giving money to family and friends
Lending money to family and friends is always a tricky situation. It may seem simple to open your wallet and help a loved one in need, but it can lead to hard feelings and conflict if you aren’t reimbursed for your loan or if the money isn’t spent in the way you expected it to be.
If you can’t afford to lend it as a gift, don’t do it at all. It typically doesn’t end well.
If you’ve already shelled out some dollars that you don’t think you are getting back and want to avoid conflict, be upfront about the future. Tell the recipient that you’re forgiving the debt, but you don’t want to be asked for more financial help in the future.
Have you made mistakes with your money? Tune in tomorrow when we’ll tackle your biggest oversights with managing your money – and how to fix them.