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Financial Advice For Couples To Avoid Fights About Money

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Money is the number one thing couples fight about.
Money is the number one thing couples fight about.

No matter how much the economy ebbs and flows, one thing remains constant: Couples fight about money. A lot.

More than a quarter of the 2,000 men and women recently surveyed by Yahoo! and Fitness magazine reported fighting more frequently about money than about chores (13 percent), kids (8 percent), sex (8 percent) or even the infamous in-laws (8 percent). That's understandable. Sharing money with another human being is difficult, as we almost inevitably want different things than our partners.

To help you figure out how to share your bank account and still share your bed at night, The Huffington Post spoke with two financial advisors who had this advice:

(1) Consider Issuing an Allowance. Some couples maintain both a joint account and individual accounts, with each person receiving a monthly payment into their own account for discretionary spending. "We often recommend 'Yours, mine and ours,'" says Casey Mervine, vice president at Charles Schwab, who likens the monthly payment to an allowance. "Each person can spend it on whatever they want without guilt or feeling that things are imbalanced, as long as each person gets the same amount." Suzanna de Baca, vice president of wealth strategies at Ameriprise Financial, is also a fan of this model, though she cautions that it may not work for every couple, depending on individual dynamics.

(2) Make Time to Talk About Money. "Couples really should schedule a specific time to have a conversation about money," says de Baca. "It shouldn't be in the bathroom while brushing your teeth, or in the car, or even over a meal because that's not going to be as productive. Treat it like a business meeting."

(3) Be a Good Listener. When you have your meeting, keep an open mind. "Don't try to argue your own point of view the whole time," suggests Mervine. "Hear out the other person's perspective and recognize that everyone is different about money. When you listen better, it is easier to connect."

(4) Be Open. Both de Baca and Mervine emphasize the importance of talking openly about your feelings about money. "It isn't just a conversation about whether you paid the bills," says de Baca. "You have to talk about planning for the future. What are your dreams? What are your goals? What do you want to buy? How do you feel about our financial position? Get it out in the open so there aren't any big surprises."

(5) Compromise. "In any relationship, on any topic, understanding that you and your partner aren't going to be on the same page all the time is really critical," explains de Baca. "Being willing to compromise, to give in a little, to forgive each other for some small slip-ups is very important. If somebody purchased something that wasn't in the budget, ask what trade-off you can make -- or maybe you have purchased something that wasn't in the budget as well."

(6) Talk Often. According to Mervine, couples should sit down at least once a year and review their financial position. "A good exercise is to list out all your assets and your liabilities so you can see where you stand and figure out where you're going." De Baca, meanwhile, suggests meeting quarterly to "keep the lines of communication open."

(7) Discuss Retirement. Even if retirement feels like a million years away, it's important that you discuss it, says Mervine. "It doesn't do any good to be working from two different objectives. If one of you wants to sell the home and move to the Bahamas, and the other wants to stay near the grandkids, it's important to know that so you can figure out how to blend those goals."

(8) Divide and Conquer. Once you've got a sense for your finances, you can split up duties. "Agree on each person's responsibilities and roles," says Mervine. "It's pretty common for one person to handle the more day-to-day tasks of paying the bills, while someone else maybe handles the investments. But you have to keep each other informed on both sides."

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