The Secret of Financially Happy Couples
Why you shouldn’t be afraid to talk about money with your significant other
We are all too familiar with the sobering statistics on marriage. Around 50% of marriages end in divorce, and oftentimes the main root of all that unhappiness is money.
But there’s some good news on the horizon. According to a recent study by Ameriprise, “a remarkable 77% of American couples report they are on the same page with their finances.”
Surprising? In these times of economic distress, it may seem too good to be true. How do these couples build happy relationships, with each other and with money? What’s their secret?
The study outlines five money habits of happy couples, exploring how these couples achieve financial harmony.
1) They make money a priority.
Many people don’t think that money should be the most important thing in their life. Some people think it’s offensive or superficial to focus on how much money they make or how they are using their money.
But the majority of happy couples agree that money is a priority. They make a point to talk about it and plan their lives around their financial goals and needs.
It’s like Robert’s rich dad said, “Money may not be the most important thing in your life, but it affects everything that is important.”
2) They talk about and agree on financial goals.
Whether it’s retirement, saving up to buy a house, or becoming financially independent, most couples have very clear, shared financial goals. Sharing financial goals, and working towards them together is not only a great way to increase your likelihood of achieving them, but it’s also fun!
Very early in our relationship, Robert and I talked about our financial goals. We both shared the goal to become financially free, as well as a vision of owning our own business. Though we faced a long bumpy road, those shared goals kept us going. When we started The Rich Dad Company, we did so together, as partners, and it made all the difference to our success in business and our relationship.
3) They set spending limits
The report found that most happy couples set a spending limit. “Any purchases over $400 (on average) need to be discussed.”
A spending limit can be a great way to ensure you and your partner have open communication about finances. Spending large amounts of money without discussing with your partner can lead to trust issues and resentment. But being open and up front about big financial decisions can help solidify your relationship.
4) They have joint banking accounts
I have mixed feelings on joint banking accounts. On the one hand, I think they can be a great way to support constant communication as a couple. When your finances are tied together, you have more reason to talk about how you’re spending or saving your money as a team.
On the other hand, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a separate bank account, as long as your partner is aware of it.
Either way, the key is communication. Having secret accounts or stashes of money your partner doesn’t know about, is not indicative of a healthy relationship. But, I do think there’s merit to keeping some of the money you earn in a separate account, that way if things don’t work out with your partner, you are freed from some of the frustrating legal entanglements that come with splitting a joint account.
5) They share responsibility for retirement planning and investment decisions.
The study found that an astonishing “92% agree on their target retirement savings goals.”
Retirement is a wonderful time to relax and pursue the things you love with the person you love. A lot of people look forward to the extra time they have to spend with their partner in retirement.
Unfortunately, retirement is too often one of the most stressful times in a couple’s life. If they haven’t planned properly, or communicated what their goals and expectations are for retirement, then what should be a happy, relaxing time can quickly dissolve into stress and anxiety.
That’s why happy couples talk about retirement right away, and work towards their retirement goals together.
Communication is key
At the end of the day, communication is the most important thing when it comes to a couple’s financial happiness. In fact, “nearly seven out of 10 (68%) describe communication over finances with their spouses/partners as ‘perfect’ or ‘very good.’”
This communication should start right at the beginning of a relationship. Robert asked me questions on my financial goals and habits on one of our very first dates!
Here are some good questions to get you started:
- What did your parents tell you about the subject of money?
- Did your own thoughts differ from those of your parents?
- What does money represent to you?
- What’s your general thought about very rich people?
- How rich is “very rich”?
If you’ve been in a relationship, or if you’ve been married for a while, and haven’t had these conversations yet, it’s not too late. Many people get uncomfortable talking about money, so take it gentle and slow. Work at it from different angles until you find the one that gets the response.