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5 Ways to Resolve Money Arguments

Most couples, partners, roommates, and family members experience conflict regarding finances. Money is a big deal. We usually work hard to get it, and even if we don't, it serves to partially define our identities in some way or another. What's more, we normally have deep-seated values that inform how we spend and save. When we find ourselves in a financially collaborative relationship with someone else, we realize that this individual might not see wallet to wallet with us at all times. Thus, conflict arises. And because talking about money is even more taboo than talking about sex and parenting, we find ourselves avoiding it, or being immature and destructive about addressing it.

Here are 5 ideas to RESOLVE money arguments:

1. Set the expectation

Before an issue even arises, set the expectation with your partner that someday, somehow, there will be a financial conflict. Normalizing and expecting this conflict will help you and your partner feel more open to initiating or agreeing to helpful discussions in the future.

2. Understand

Which of you is the spender? Which of you is the saver? Why does it bother your partner so much when you throw the soap away when it has a centimeter of liquid left at the bottom? Have a meaningful discussion around values and how those values inform how financial decisions are made. Listen to your partner and try to understand where they are coming from. Did your spouse grow up in a household that had plenty of resources (i.e. money "grew on trees")? Did your roommate's dad blow all of his money on gambling? What types of things does your partner like to spend money on and what does your partner hate to spend money on?

3. Respect

So maybe one of you is the breadwinner and one of you isn't. How does that knowledge affect how you see one another? Does the breadwinner get to make all of the financial decisions just because they make more money? Let's take it a step further. Maybe one of you works and the other provides childcare and housekeeping. Do you view the person working in the home as the "spender" because they genuinely need to tighten the purse strings? Or maybe you have pinned them the spender because spending is inherent in their responsibilities, (i.e. grocery shopping, buying clothes for the family, paying for school activities). Regardless of what you do and what your partner does, find a way to respect each other and find balance. Each person has the capacity and right to have an equitable say in financial decisions.

4. Honesty

Keeping financial decisions a secret is all too common. I encourage you to flip the script and stop keeping secrets. Honestly and openly discussing your financial beliefs, goals, and habits with your partner will help you resolve conflicts directly.

5. Budget. Call for professional help. Set up meetings.

This isn't rocket science. Everyone can benefit from budgeting, especially if the budget is a collaborative work of art rather than an act of control, avoidance, or dishonesty. It isn't always easy to do this on your own, so calling a financial advisor can get you on the right track. Setting up quarterly, monthly, or even weekly meetings with your partner can help you stay on track and keep the discussion open and current.

We are all human and we all have needs. Once we understand each other on a deeper level, we respect each other more and have happier relationships. Talking about money should not be taboo. Spending and saving are normal behaviors that involve both successes AND mistakes for every human being on the planet. Budgeting can be a fun activity, especially when you can move beyond misunderstandings and finally start focusing on saving for your next adventure.

Written by Leah C. Schulte, CFP®, LPC

Financial advisor at Brass Tax Wealth Management and therapist at Naya Clinics

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About Sam Nabil

Sam Nabil is the founder of Naya Clinics and is a Boston therapist and a Boston Marriage Counselor.

Sam offers therapy in Boston and Boston Marriage Counseling for adults suffering from relationship challenges, life transitions and anxiety. Sam Nabil was featured in many prestigious publications. Check out his interview with Aljazeera English, The Washington post, The Boston Globe, Fatherly magazine, Women's health magazine, Cornell university, Yahoo News, USA Today,

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