Client Conversations: How Couples Can Find Financial Happiness Together
The financial futures of couples are tied to the decisions both partners make.
When you climb into bed tonight, take a look over at the person lying beside you. That’s your financial partner—your business partner in this thing called life. Many of us tend to overlook this obvious fact: Your financial future is tied to the decisions both of you make.
Although we’re financially intermingled with whom we’re married to or in a committed relationship with, we often ignore this reality for some reason until an issue arises. And that complicit forgetfulness is at the core of many of our money and relationship problems.
A Troubled Financial Relationship
Pick up the needle from the broken record because you’ve heard this one before. Financial differences are one of the top sources of conflict for couples. Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones, but the average couple argues about money three times per month.1 Money issues are the third leading causes of divorce.2
However, no matter how many times this statistic pops up, many of us have yet to embrace the notion that our financial partnership is something we need to begin working on. In fact, things are actually not improving.
A recent study shows that 42% of Americans say they aren’t completely honest with their significant other about financial matters, including purchases.3 It’s called “financial infidelity,” and it could lead to tension and strain in your relationship.
WHAT PURCHASES SPOUSES HIDE
Nearly 80% of husbands and wives spent money over the past year without telling their partner:
Source: CESI Debt Solutions
It doesn’t have to be this way. Communication, planning, and transparency are all key in ensuring a harmonious relationship.
A BETTER WAY
If you haven’t discussed your roles lately (or ever), now is the perfect time to take a few initial steps together to create a stress-free game plan. Here are three quick tips:
1. Begin Communicating
Simply acknowledging your roles as financial partners is a great first step couples can make. It may not be easy. Communication (or the lack thereof) is most likely the underlying issue. If you take that stride together, you’re miles ahead of many of your peers in putting yourself in the best position for your future. Having regular conversations about financial matters is key.
2. Start Planning
Fortunately, if you work with a financial advisor, you’re in luck. You may think of your financial advisor as someone who helps you map out your financial goals, but he/she can also help you and your partner understand your beliefs about money and why you spend or save the way you do. Whether it’s dealing with debt, discussing future priorities, or simply getting on the same page as your partner on spending, an advisor can help you create common goals.
3. Be Open
When you’re talking about money matters, be honest. The bad news is that the dishonesty we discussed earlier is up nine percent from just two years ago.3 According to research, 75% of respondents say this variety of unfaithfulness has a negative effect on relationships.3 Here’s a simple strategy: Don’t keep secrets from one another. It might be hard, but coming clean might be the best bet.
Speak with your financial advisor to find ways you and your financial partner can start making better financial decisions—together. Knowing you both are simpatico in your business relationship may help your personal relationship and help the two of you get a better night’s sleep.
1 “Finances Causing Rifts for American Couples,” American Institute of CPAs/Harris Interactive, 5/12
2 “Survey: Certified Divorce Financial Analyst Professionals Reveal the Leading Causes of Divorce,” Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts, 8/13
3 “Two in Five Americans Confess to Financial Infidelity Against Their Partner,” National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), 2/16
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