With 50% of marriages ending in divorce, every couple has an uphill battle as they work to sacrifice, cooperate, and unite as one. While some marriages are doomed from the start, it is possible to have a long-lasting, successful marriage if both spouses are willing to work through the challenges we all face on a daily basis.
Among the most common reasons for divorce are money problems and spouses fighting over money. With all of the stress associated with paying bills, sending your children to tuition-free colleges, and saving for a comfortable retirement and a sufficient emergency fund, it’s no wonder why money is such a problem for so many families.
So, if you’re fighting over money, what’s the reason your spouse is really mad?
In a recent survey conducted by AICPA (American Institute of CPAs), they discovered that couples average THREE money fights each month.
While the majority of people’s money problems with never go away, you can work on finding a solution to many of them and reduce the amount you fight over money. Here is a list of the top 3 money fights and some suggestions I have to remedy the problems:
1. Differing Opinions on “Needs” versus “Wants” – 58%
The poll discovered that when a couple is fighting over money, the majority of the money problems, 58%, come when spouses disagree on “needs” versus “wants.”
For years of my life, particularly during my broke and desperate phase, I also struggled mightily with understanding what I really NEEDED. What I’ve found through coaching couples over the years is that as our society has changed, so has our definition on the topics at hand.
Years ago – before cable television, smartphones, and the internet – needs were simply what they really are: food, clothing, and shelter. However, as our world has changed many now believe we “need” internet within our homes, cable television, and a smartphone in order to survive.
While you may never get on the same page in regards to understanding needs versus wants, instead of fighting over money, I’d encourage you to sit down with your spouse and talk to them about your concerns.
What I’ve seen is that most spouses don’t care if their husband goes golfing on a weekly basis, as long as their budget is in line and they’re accomplishing other goals that are important to them. The reverse is also true: many husbands wouldn’t care if you go on a shopping spree as long as you’re not putting your family and their future in jeopardy.
Saying that, consider getting on a budget where each of you have a say in the amount that gets spent on various items. On top of that, I’d suggest that you each allocate a particular spending limit on “fun money” for the month. This fun money is given in equal amounts to each spouse on a monthly basis and they can do WHATEVER they want with it. My wife and I allow $60/each; I can go golfing (maybe once) or eat out on a few occasions with friends. However, when the money is gone…it’s gone.
2. Unexpected Expenses – 49%
The most common reason people in America go into debt is when a random bill comes; when this happens in a family, a money problem arises and spouses start fighting.
These bills are typically: repairs or maintenance to the house or cars, property taxes or personal property taxes, annual life/car/home premiums, children’s sporting events of field trips at school, or even Christmas expenses. Here at the WSL household, we call these expenses non-monthly expenses as they happen periodically throughout the year.
The way my wife and I have overcome this money problem is by having a “targeted” savings account where we save EVERY MONTH for the particular bills that come randomly throughout the year.
So, when you sit down and establish your budget as a household, you should also include any expenses or bills that happen in a given year. Once you’ve established those expenses, then you break them down into monthly payments and begin saving those payments in a checking or savings account. I’ve written a detailed post about discovering the traps in your budget; so read that if you’re needing some help planning for unexpected expenses.
3. Insufficient Savings – 32%
The study also revealed that couples fighting over money commonly fight about not having enough savings for emergencies.
While this isn’t always the case, I’ve particularly noticed that most women prefer a larger amount in savings than their husbands do. I’m not exactly sure the reasoning, but as Dave Ramsey used to say, ‘women are created with an extra emergency gland.’
There is something to be said for having a large pile of cash set aside for rainy days; it provides for a lot of peace and restful nights, and you’re not stressed out when a random bills comes due.
For those spouses out there that don’t understand why your husband or wife wants a large emergency fund, you don’t need to understand it…you just need to do it.
Isn’t it also ironic that money problem #2 would be eliminated if problem #3 was also taken care of? So, to sum it up, if you want to stop fighting with your spouse over money, then get a large emergency fund and 50% of your money problems will be resolved.
I’ve been fortunate to never fight with my wife about money. I’d attribute that to my early money problems and the struggles I had; after overcoming those issues, my mindset on finances also changed and now they closely resemble hers. On top of that, we have bi-weekly budget meetings and set goals (financial and personal) on a monthly basis.
Readers: do you often find that you and your spouse are fighting over money? If so, have you taken any steps to resolve the conflict and money problems?
The articles are written by personal finance enthusiasts (not certified professionals) based on their personal experience. What works for them may or may not work for you, and you should always consult a financial advisor before making important financial decisions.
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