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10 ways to ensure money doesn’t destroy your home

  Money is one of the big factors that can destroy a home. According to marriage counsellors, it is one of the main causes of problems in fa...

 


Money is one of the big factors that can destroy a home. According to marriage counsellors, it is one of the main causes of problems in families. It can lead to the killing of family members and can turn relationships sour.

In fact, money is said to be the second leading cause of divorce, behind infidelity, according to a 2017 study by a financial consulting firm based in Tennessee in the United States, Ramsey Solutions.

According to the study titled, ‘Money, marriage and communication: The link between relationship problems and finances,’ money is the number one issue married couples fight about.

Ramsey Solutions conducted the study involving more than 1,000 adults in the US to gain an understanding of personal finance behaviours and attitudes, as well as how married couples communicate and relate about money.

Talking about money issues, the study showed that debt was the main factor crippling many homes.

“More couples in the younger generations accumulated debt to pay for their wedding than older generations. Forty-one per cent of those married five years or less said they felt pressured to spend more than they could afford on their wedding.

“Over half (54 per cent) of couples married five years or less said some of their wedding expenses were covered with a credit card – and 73 per cent of those couples said they regretted that decision,” the study stated.

Based on the study, American author and personal finance expert, Rachel Cruze, said couples who were just starting out needed the best foundation possible if they were going to have a strong, long-lasting marriage.

“Unfortunately, debt keeps couples in the past and prevents them from focusing on their future,” said Cruze, who noted that money discussions in the home were usually bound to attract some frustration and tension.

A personal finance writer with Bloomberg, Suzanne Woolley, also noted that disputes over financial issues could cause untold problems across all social spheres – even in families that didn’t think of themselves as dysfunctional.

A Lagos-based finance expert and investment analyst, Mr Kola Oni, said it was most disheartening when a home, which is regarded as the most important fabric of society, was torn apart because of money.

To avoid this, the experts recommended the following ways to prevent money from destroying homes.

Discuss your lifestyle choices together

Lifestyle choices affect homes. For instance, let’s say a spouse is perfectly content shopping for clothes at a regular boutique whereas the other spouse loves to buy designer wear, which are costlier, the truth is this will cause a problem in the home, particularly when the couple have an income that doesn’t support the expensive taste of the extravagant partner.

Thankfully, this problem can be tackled, according to Cruze, who wrote on daveramsey.com.

She said, “Marriage is all about compromise. If one of you has more expensive taste, consider shopping at an outlet mall to snag those name brands at affordable prices.

“Because the bottom line is: Your lifestyle needs to line up with your actual income – not what you wish it was. You might want to live like a perfectly curated Instagram post, but don’t let yourself fall down that rabbit hole, especially when there aren’t enough zeros in your bank account.”

Keep a joint bank account

Some couples think the best way to avoid money arguments is to keep separate bank accounts – the husband’s income goes into one account, the wife’s goes into another, and they each pay bills separately.

It may seem like this will help the couple to avoid problems. However, Cruze said it would achieve the opposite.

She said, “This lays the groundwork for major problems with your money and marriage.

“Marriage is a partnership. Two become one. Separating the money and splitting the bills is a bad idea that only leads to more money and relationship problems down the road. Don’t keep separate accounts. Put all of your money together and begin to look at it as a whole.”

Recognise your differences in money mindset

The truth is, everyone’s money mindset is different, and opposites tend to attract. The chances are, while one partner is a saver, the other is more inclined to spend.

Cruze said, “While personality differences cause some marital problems, it isn’t the real root of your money and marriage issues. The source of the problem is whenever one of you neglects to hear the other’s input, or when one of you bows out from handling the finances altogether.

“Don’t keep the money details all to yourself. And stop using your ‘knowledge’ to boss around your free-spirit spouse. If you’re the more carefree spouse, don’t just nod your head and say, ‘That looks great, babe.’ You have a vote in the budget meetings! Give feedback, criticism and encouragement.

“You’re both on the same team here, so work on the budget together! Use your personality differences to become a stronger, more united team.”

Don’t let salary differences come between you

For most couples, one of them probably makes more money than the other. Rarely will both be making the exact same salary. But whether the amount comes to $50 or $50,000 more a year, the same problem can arise.

Sometimes, instead of couples to see the incomes from both of them as “our money,” the partner who has the bigger salary may think they have leverage over their spouse. This will only cause more money and relationship troubles.

“It’s not his or her money. There’s no reason to hold a higher income over the other’s head. You’re on the same team. Start acting like it,” Cruze said.

In some cases, the spouse who makes less income or stays at home with the kids might feel like they shouldn’t have as much say.

She added, “But remember, you’re on the same team. You have equal say in your money and marriage. And don’t even get me started on the value that stay-at-home parents provide.”

Be transparent about income sources

It is not only when a spouse has an extramarital affair that they are unfaithful in marriage. Sometimes, it’s when you’re unfaithful to a shared financial goal by opening a side bank account or stashing away cash. That’s deceitful. The same applies if you have a credit card your spouse knows nothing about.

It’s crucial to be open and honest about any side checking or savings accounts or secret credit cards you have. It’s time to own up to the truth and clear the air. Then, work toward establishing financial trust again. Recommit to your shared financial goals and remember why you’re doing it. You’re in this together!

Set expectations together

According to a Lagos-based marriage counsellor and financial expert, Mrs Anjola Esemokhai, regarding money and relationships, unmet expectations can cause a lot of conflicts.

Esemokhai said one of the fastest ways to feel unfulfilled in marriage was having realities that were different from one’s expectations.

She said, “Some wives would say they expected their husbands to build a house within a so-so time of their marriage; some expect vacation trips but don’t get any. Once they don’t get these realities, they feel sad in the marriage. It also happens to men too. But I do tell couples that it doesn’t work like that.

“No spouse should let their unrealistic expectations cause money and marriage problems. There’s no rule stating that married couples must build their home, start a family, or go on a trip to Dubai during their first few years of marriage.

“They are good expectations, but one should not worry when they don’t happen right away. When the couples sit together and plan their finances, they can make their dreams a reality.”

Be careful employing a relative in your business

You can offer your relative a position in your business. But it depends on the type of business. For instance, if the business is in financial services, it can be a disaster to hire a family as an advisor – according to New York-based financial planner, Timothy Sobolewski.

“It’s not any better in the brokerage world. While having an experienced and trusted relative as your financial adviser can be a huge boon, finding a neutral party to manage family money avoids conflicts.

“Either way, choose an adviser who is a fiduciary, so they will put a client’s interest ahead of their own when giving investment advice or managing portfolios,” Sobolewski said in a Bloomberg article.

Also, should you decide to hire a relative to manage your money, a financial adviser and founder of Gateway Wealth Management in St Louis, US, David Foster, advised sticking to this rule of thumb: “Don’t take on anyone you’d feel uncomfortable firing.”

Give each other some breathing room

Conferring with your spouse about all of your purchases can feel restricting–especially when you find yourself having to defend a purchase that your partner doesn’t endorse. That’s why some experts have suggested having separate budgets for each spouse to spend on discretionary items of their choosing.

Finance expert, Perry Higgins, said, “I recommend a line item on the families’ budget titled, ‘Fun money.’ These are the funds that can be used any way spouses choose and they don’t need to report back to one another each month as to what they used those funds for.”

For example, a couple can have separate clothing budgets that they can spend however they want – without tampering with the overall budget.

Avoid playing the blame game

If you have a partner with a spending addiction, the worst thing to do is to accuse them of being irresponsible and start playing the blame game. The CEO and founder of oXYGen Financial, Ted Jenkin, advised, “You should try to take the time, as with any addiction, to understand the ‘why’ behind the behaviour.”

Seek help

If fights about money have hijacked your marriage and you’re coming close to pulling the plug, American finance/investment advisor, Jennifer Woods, suggested considering enlisting the help of a third party who could help you get back on track.

“For some couples, this might be a financial planner or if you are religious, enlist the help of a church ministry. You could also make an appointment with a couple’s therapist. There is a burgeoning field called ‘financial therapy’ that is dedicated specifically to helping couples navigate financial turmoil,” Woods wrote on Forbes.com.