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Couples fight over all sorts of issues, right? In a recent survey conducted by the AICPA, it actually may surprise people that the most common start to a spat is money. Twenty seven percent of respondents to this survey said that above other topics, such as children, chores, work or friends, finances tend to lead to the most disagreements.

Fifty eight percent of those who argue about money say it starts with differing opinions on what are “wants” versus “needs”. Forty nine percent say the starting point is unexpected expenses, while thirty two percent say it is over insufficient savings. A large contributing factor is also that fifty five percent of couples say they do not set aside time to regularly talk about their finances.

It is important to keep the lines of communication open to the topic of money, to keep your relationship healthy. A few ways to keep finances from driving a wedge between couples are:

  • Get full disclosure. Before marrying, moving in together, or mingling assets, you should fully disclose your finances as part of a joint financial planning process. Each person should routinely review credit card accounts, bank statements, and credit reports to keep all data in the open.
  • Set a money date. Set aside time regularly – ideally, once a week – to meet about family finances without other distractions.
  • Divide and conquer. Split the duties of managing accounts and paying bills. Although one person in a relationship often takes the lead in these duties, this arrangement can lead to stress, tension, and confusion. If one person pays bills and the other tracks money, for example, a check and balance on the family finances is created.
  • Hire an adviser. A neutral third party can reduce tensions over money by working with couples to establish financial goals, pay bills, monitor accounts, and notice any unusual spending patterns.

Open and honest communication is just as important with finances as any other decision made in a relationship, whether it’s buying a house, changing jobs, having children, or deciding where children attend school. Start by creating a budget together or looking over last month’s statements to see where your money is spent. This will help you to come to a joint decision on where your money should go. If you need any assistance with any of these ideas, you should contact your accountant today.