Spending and Saving Conflicts for Couples

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There is no doubt that arguments about money are one of the key causes of conflict in relationships. When money is in short supply, arguments often revolve around differences in attitude towards spending and the distinction between needs and wants. The interesting thing about financial decisions is that they are never right or wrong. A good financial decision is one which is made in full consideration of the consequences of the choice that is made. Choosing to spend money now rather than saving it to spend later may lower your standard of living in the long term. On the other hand, saving money now to spend later means sacrificing current lifestyle for future benefit. Neither approach is right or wrong, they just have different consequences. Conflict arises where each partner has different views about the acceptability of the consequences. Here are some guiding principles which should help to resolve conflict:

  • Respect your partner’s views and acknowledge that different attitudes to spending and saving are not right or wrong
  • Focus on understanding the consequences of financial decisions
  • Agree on which decisions need to be made jointly and which can be made individually
  • Agree an amount of money (from income and/or savings) which each partner is free to spend or save as they wish on things that are important to him or her
  • Be clear on the difference between needs and wants and make sure the essentials are taken care of first
  • Ensure that you have plans in place to cover at least your basic long term requirements before making large purchases in the short term for lifestyle reasons.

Whether you are arguing over how much your partner spends on wine or cigarettes, or how much to spend on a new car or kitchen, these guidelines should help you reach an agreement.

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