Couples who fight more often over finances are 30 percent more likely to get divorced than married partners who fight less frequently due to finances, according to a 2009 Utah State University study. Since these problems are prevalent no matter how much money is involved, conflicts are best managed by building a wealth of sense, rather than cents. As an attorney who specializes in estate planning in New York, Ann-Margaret Carrozza knows the importance of partners being on the same page when it comes to money matters both emotionally and legally. She offers some scripts and tips to help you communicate effectively when speaking with your husband about your family's finances.
Create your family’s financial blueprint. Chart your vision for our family's ideal financial picture. Make concrete goals and agree at the outset that you won’t try to “keep up with the Joneses.” Carrozza says one non-confrontational way to initiate the discussion is by throwing an acquaintance or neighbor under the proverbial bus, "Gee, Mark and Pam sure have beautiful cars, clothes, jewelry, etc. It kind of makes me think that they will be forced to work forever to keep up with the interest payments alone!"
Make growing your savings a family hobby. Look for innovative was you can save that offer dividends down the road for present-day sacrifices. For example, “We could take that $50,000 you have been saving toward the powerboat and instead use it as a down payment on a 3-family house selling for $250,000. This will provide us with $1000 per month in positive cash flow. Down the road, after the mortgage is paid, the rental income will be a terrific source of retirement income.”
Plan for parenting before the stork arrives. Consider who would take responsibility for minor children and create a will declaring those intentions. Avoiding a negative reaction if you disagree with your husband’s point-of-view on an ideal guardian is essential for avoiding conflict. For example, "Your mother? That is a lovely thought – she certainly did fine job with you. Do you think though, that it might not be an imposition on her because of her health issues, etc?” Carrozza says you can name co-guardians if a compromise is in order. These people may or may not be the same people you elect as trustee of your children's assets.
Enlist the help of a professional. A financial planner and long-term care insurance salesperson can help you analyze your financial picture and long-term goals with concrete steps for putting your aspirations into action.
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