Blog | Personal Finance

5 Tips to Make Sure Money Doesn’t Kill Your Relationship

Don’t let the number one thing couples fight about destroy your love

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In the early 1980’s, I saw a cute blond and fell head over heels in love. That cute blond was Kim. We started dating, and eventually we got married. She’s the love of my life, my best friend, and the reason why I’m successful today. Over the years, our marriage has gotten stronger and better.

A lot of people see Kim and I today and think we’re happy because we’re rich. The reality is that when I met Kim, I was broke and a million dollars in debt after the failure of my first business selling rock and roll Velcro wallets. Thankfully, Kim stuck with me, and I know that Kim isn’t with me because of my money—and I’m not with her because of hers!

For many years, Kim and I struggled financially. In that respect, we were no different than many young couples. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was stressful at times, but we worked together as a team, persevered, and had a plan.

Money: the #1 thing couples fight about

As Huffington Post reports, according to a recent survey by Money Magazine, found that “70 percent of couples argued about money more than household chores, togetherness, sex, snoring and what’s for dinner.” The substance of those arguments? “Couples cited frivolous purchases, household budgeting and credit card debt as the biggest sources of friction.”

This squares with another report by NBC News, which reported that 60 percent of couples that fight over money do so because one person in the relationship either spends too much or too little.

No surprise there. Money is important for happiness, health, and harmony. When you don’t have enough money to pay the bills, take care of your family, and have a little fun together, it’s a big stress. And it’s an even bigger stress when you know you don’t have enough because of financial mistakes made by one spouse or both.

Money is such a big stress that couples that fight about money more than once a week have a 30 percent higher chance of divorce.

Why couples fight about money

It’s a shame that money causes people who once loved each other to break up. Usually, after asking people who share their stories a few pointed questions, I hear a range of reasons on why money breaks up relationships. Those reasons range from bad planning, poor financial intelligence, to unmet and unexpressed expectations.

But I believe there is one main reason that money breaks up a relationship: they never talk about!

Couples should talk about money constantly—especially at the beginning of a relationship. Why? Because as my wife, Kim, writes, alignment on money is the most important factor in a successful relationship.

Couples who never talk about money will only fight about it because they never had shared vision on their finances.

Because a rich life is about more than just what’s in your bank account, I thought I’d share a few thoughts here on how to get into alignment when it comes to relationships and money.

Make a plan

When Kim and I were broke, we still knew where we were going. Each year, we’d sit down and write out our financial goals. For me, it was starting a financial education company, building businesses, and investing in oil and real estate. For Kim, it was building a substantial real estate portfolio.

Each month, we’d sit down and discuss what we were doing to accomplish those goals, encourage each other, and make adjustments as needed. Everything in our life was directed towards reaching our goals, which helped us with spending decisions, life choices, and commitments.

Most importantly, we communicated our goals, and there was a clear understanding of expectations on both sides.

Encourage independence

Since we were both broke when we got married, we depended on each other instead of one person depending on the other. I was no sugar daddy, and Kim wasn’t my sugar mama. Instead, we grew together.

Today, Kim and I have separate accounts, investments, and ventures. We’re both wealthy and don’t need each other to be secure financially. This makes it much easier to want each other. Because we each take care of our own financial houses, it eliminates much stress and fighting.

Be a team

Even though we’re independent financially, we’re still a team. And we know that as a team we share in each other’s problems and celebrate each other’s victories.

As a team, we communicate constantly, making changes as needed. I seek Kim for advice on my financial ventures, and she does the same. If there are problems, we help each other out. And like a team, we’re not competing against each other. We want to see each other win, and we cheer each other on.

Increase your financial education

The first gift I ever bought Kim was a class on accounting. I knew her goal of becoming a real estate investor, and I knew she’d need to know accounting. For years, we worked on our financial education, often reading books together, taking classes together, and attending seminars together. Now, we write books together, teach classes together, and give seminars together—and we’re still learning.

In any relationship, both partners need to be financially independent. This means both partners need to be financially intelligent and committed to always increasing financial education.

This has always been our goal as a couple, and today, because Kim is so smart financially, she’s independently wealthy.

Learn from mistakes (and laugh)

Finally, understand that life is a journey. Many couples have a hard time with financial mistakes because they have the expectation that hard times won’t or shouldn’t come. Every couple faces hard financial times. It’s your response to them as a couple that will make or break your relationship.

For Kim and I, we always looked at our setbacks as learning opportunities. And because we were a team, we tackled those problems together—and learned from them together.

Also, we laugh together a lot. Kim is my best friend. When life get’s hard, it also often gets absurd. If you can’t stand back with your best friend and laugh at the difficulties and absurdities of life, you’re screwed.

One of the best ways to get financially smarter is to take mistakes as learning opportunities and to stay positive and good humored together.

Original publish date: October 17, 2017

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