Couples, Talk about Your Finances!

Do you discuss your finances with your partner? If you don't, you in a distinct minority on that front. Experts assert that approximately 95 percent of all couples make joint decisions on spending. So, if you don't, perhaps you should.

Back during the 'golden era,' parents handled finances in an entirely different way – some husbands always took care of the bills and doled out weekly allowances to their wives. Conversely, others brought the paycheck home and handed it to wife, who actually allocated the funds wherever they were needed. Still today, in some homes, one partner may handle the bills and balance the checkbook. This type of control by one person can be the catalyst for many arguments, particularly about overspending – unless, of course, the other partner doesn't mind and is given constant updates as to how much is spent and on what, and how much is saved.

Financial experts advise that couples should sit down together and not only discuss their individual finances, but jointly set up a household budget as well – with the caveat that all future major decisions about spending will be made collectively. This is especially important for engaged couples, particularly if one partner has a number of debts and is not forthcoming about them. This can put a major strain on the future of the relationship.

There is another important reason for discussing each other's finances, and that is accepting and respecting one another's approach in how finances are handled. A solid and reasonable budget can help by offering a suitable compromise for both parties, and any questions that arise while it's being made can be talked about at that time.

Statistics show that men spend more money on electronics and women spend money on clothes for themselves and the kids. (Furthermore, most people probably didn't need a study to be done to figure those two trends out.) The problem arises when unchecked spending causes many couples to wind up over-their-heads in debt, and requires tapping into the family savings (if there is any) in order to escape.

Another troubling statistic has shown that more than 50 percent of couples today do not disclose all of their assets to one another. While most couples have joint bank accounts, the desire to have separate accounts can often lead to suspicious confrontations. It's therefore important for couples to be upfront and honest about their finances. Without trust, questions will always arise and bitter feelings will likely ensue.

In our parents' day, it was the "breadwinner" who often controlled the household finances. Today it's different, because there are often two breadwinners in the family. The old saying "two heads are better than one" never applied so aptly as it does now. Families need both paychecks to survive in this current economic atmosphere. Holding back debts or assets serves no purpose. An honest and open discussion about what each person has and how they together can make all facets of the relationship work is the only way to make the union a cohesive and lasting one.

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