Finances & Your Spouse: 3 Consequences of “Skipped” Conversations

Finances & Your Spouse: 3 Consequences of by Susan Moussi{4:10 minutes to read} There are many studies that look at money and relationships. According to Dave Ramsey’s 2017 State of Finances in American Household Survey, “couples in healthy marriages talk about money more” — 54% as compared to 29%.  

A 2014 APA Stress in America survey found that 31% of adults with partners reported: “money is a major source of conflict in their relationship.” A more recent 2018 Couples & Money study by Fidelity Investments found that “more than four in 10 couples admit they have difficulty talking to their partner about money.” 

Fortunately, there are many books available to help couples with their money conflicts. The hard part is sitting down with your partner/spouse and having these difficult conversations, especially when you have been together for some time without having had these conversations. Will it feel safe? Will we be able to find a plan that works for the two of us? 

While avoiding the conversation with your significant other may seem like the easier option, here are some possible outcomes of not having these communications: 

1. Financial Infidelity:

Financial infidelity exists; if you hide an account, such as a credit card account or a bank account, or hide a purchase from your partner/spouse, these are typical forms of financial infidelity. The reasons for doing so are many. 

Hiding this may be done with good intentions, like opening a savings account to build an account for a down payment on a future home. What could go wrong? Well, you just made a pretty significant decision without involving the other person. While you think they should be happy, quite the opposite could happen. Hiding purchases from your partner/spouse is not uncommon among couples where there is a lack of conversations about money. The Dave Ramsey study mentioned above also found that “1 in 3 of those who argue with their spouse about money confess they had hidden purchases from their spouse.” 

2. Death of a Partner/Spouse:

Division of household duties between partners/spouses helps get things done. Someone in the household typically gets assigned to the task of managing the family finances and is the keeper of the knowledge of what is owned and owed. If that information is not shared, then the remaining partner/spouse is now left alone to manage the finances while still in a state of shock and grieving. One way to share the information is to have a notebook with all the most current information. 

Motley Fool once published an article “Write This Letter to Your Family Before You’re Gone.” A reader had submitted “A Letter From Your Dead Husband,” in which he provided instructions for the chance he predeceased his wife. Another option is to have periodic meetings (quarterly/monthly) to share this information. 

3. Relationship Dissatisfaction:

According to a Harris Poll conducted for Ally Bank, 36% reported that “money caused the most stress on their relationship.” Unresolved, the dissatisfaction could lead to a break-up. According to an Ameriprise Financial study, of the couples who report that “they are on the same page with finances,” 68% describe “communication over finances with their spouses/partners as ‘perfect’ or ‘very good.’” They make talking about money a priority. This same online article from Ameriprise also states that 73% of individuals have money management styles that are different from their spouse. Often, opposites attract — making getting on the same page challenging. 

If you need assistance to have this crucial conversation with your loved one, I am here to help. Contact me today by phone or email to get started.

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Susan A. Moussi, CPA, CFP®, CDFA
SMD Tax & Divorce Financial Planning Consultants, Inc.
Phone: 614.429.4172
susan@smdtaxanddivorce.com

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