ThreeJars Daily: Save Your Relationship—And Bank Account

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Save Your Relationship—And Bank Account

Photo: TKTK

By Tara Rummell Berson

The leading cause of divorce is money disagreements, says Bonnie Eaker Weil, Ph.D., a New York City-based relationship expert and author of Financial Infidelity: 7 Steps to Conquering the #1 Relationship Wrecker. A new year is a great time to get healthy about your shared finances. Here are four ways to do it.

1. Make a financial date. Let’s face it, going over your budget is kind of a drag. Make it something you both look forward to by doing it when you don’t usually have anything going on (like a Wednesday night), and discuss things over a bottle of wine, or before a nice dinner or popping in a movie. Limit your chats to 10 minutes per week, but take time to prepare for them—and we’re not just talking about spreadsheets! Change out of your sweats, pretend it’s a real date, and try to relax. Enjoying each other’s company will remind you that you’re doing the hard work of financial planning so you can have many more nights like this and live the lives you both want.

2. Don’t keep score with money. Just because you were upset that your husband forgot to take out the trash (again) or watched TV while you folded his laundry, don’t run out and buy a pair of $300 shoes to get back at him. And same goes for husbands who have a grudge. Don’t use money as a way to reward or revenge your partner’s behavior. Instead, start an IOU policy. Each week, jot down something that’s important to you—like “Let’s fold laundry together!”—and have your spouse do the same, to make sure your needs are met. “When both partners are conscientious about understanding each other’s wishes and generous about distributing IOUs, you’ll begin to associate fulfillment with emotional currency rather than trying to meet your needs through acquiring material things and spending money,” says Weil.

3. Institute a no-spending day. For one day out of the year (or even per month), pretend that you don’t have or need money. Window shop, cook at home, or go to a friend’s house and play a fun game of Scrabble. This will be a reminder that you can have fun without spending, and that you should be grateful for the things that you have.

4. Do some financial daydreaming. Share fantasies about what you’d like to buy even if you don’t have the money for it right now—like that trip to the French Riviera. While a $10,000 vacation may be way out of your budget, it might prompt you to save for a more realistic romantic weekend getaway, and make your feel just as good. Being open about what you want lessens the chance that you’ll sneak behind each other’s backs to get them. “When you take the shameful part of spending out of the equation, you’re much more likely to have a healthier relationship with money, and with your partner,” says Weil.

Tara Rummell Berson is a freelance writer who lives at the Jersey Shore with her husband, two kids, and dog.


January 14, 2013 at 3:59 AM
Justine said...

"Institute a no-spending day." I think it's time that we practice the no-spending day starting today. I really want to fix our current financial standing.

April 22, 2013 at 9:50 AM
Jay said...

Nice article! I think this is something that couples should consider specially the second item: Don’t keep score with money. it's really not about getting back with your partner, then in the long run you both suffer. Cool read and thanks for sharing!

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