How to Stop Bickering Over Money

When couples fight over money, it's usually because a spender and a saver don't see eye to eye.

by Marc Myers from Reader's Digest | May 2005

When couples fight over money, it’s usually because a spender and a saver don’t see eye to eye. Tips for keeping the financial peace:

Choose Your Moments
Financial discussions turn sour when emotions run high and personal attacks hit low, says Richard Geist of Harvard Medical School’s psychiatry department and author of Investor Therapy. Instead of pointing fingers, set a time to talk, and express concerns beforehand in an email or typed letter, which can be read and considered free of friction.

List Your Plans
Most financial tiffs are triggered by divergent views of how money should be spent, says Sharon Rich, a financial planner in Belmont, Massachusetts. Team up by listing mutual goals and major future expenses such as retirement timing, and paying for college costs or the purchase of a vacation home. Then weigh the reality of monthly bills and spending patterns against those goals. “This sobering exercise usually gets spenders to police their impulses,” says Rich.

Cap the Rewards
Most people who spend beyond their family’s means feel they deserve sizable rewards for the stress and strain of everyday life, says Geist. Agree in advance that items costing more than a set amount will be discussed before purchase and evaluated against monthly expenses.