|The Basic..Good Info
||[Jun. 10th, 2006|02:55 pm]
Just thought this is preety useful....
|The 12 biggest reasons we fight over finances
|It's an emotional battlefield: Superheated 'discussions' with your partner about who's spending, who's saving, and how. Caution: You may spot yourself in here.
When I started doing research for this column, asking what sorts of money fights people have, every single couple said the same thing: "Well, we don't really fight about money."
Right, right, right, I'd have to say, backing away from the inferno of lies. "But we all have the occasional teensy squabble, right?"
Even then people were hesitant. "Well . . . maybe," they'd say.
One woman described how her husband took away her credit card one day. Not that they fought about it. Nah.
Or take another couple I know. I was at their house recently when the husband came home from work with a new drum set. He hadn't planned to drop $500 on drums that day, he explained as he unloaded the car. He just saw a classified ad and thought, why not?
Although his wife appeared calm while I was there, she told me later that they had a long "discussion" about the fact that they had agreed to save money to buy a house -- never mind their long-planned trip to Europe this summer -- and why the !@#$% did he have to buy a drum set NOW?
What we have here is a failure to communicate.
"It's a fairly common fight, and it usually happens because the two people involved aren't on the same page," says Barbara Steinmetz, a financial planner in Burlingame, Calif. "One person thinks they have a shared goal of saving for a house, car or retirement, and the other doesn't."
In fact, most fights occur not because of the amount of money spent but because of unspoken expectations that couples have and are often afraid to talk about. Sometimes it's clashing styles, sometimes mismatched agendas, but people get so rooted in their own money views that they can't see that their partner simply has a different perspective. (See sidebar for more solutions.)
Steinmetz described one couple she advised who had this blind spot. The husband first outlined his goals for investing, retirement savings, etc. Steinmetz then asked the wife about her goals. "The husband was shocked to find out his wife had goals -- and they were different from his!" she says.
So if you're like most of the couples I interviewed who never really fight about money, here's a primer on the most common sources of financial friction. I know you don’t need to resolve any arguments. If some of them sound familiar, don't worry. They're just talking points, for a future "discussion."
Although there are hundreds of variations, all of them can be traced back to the three main sources of money conflict: Communication, Control and Family.
The Big Spender: First described in the biblical story of Noah, who developed a sudden infatuation with large boats and exotic animals (which was vexing unto his wife), this age-old fight revolves around a simple, unresolvable dispute: One person wants to spend; the other doesn't, and neither can convince the other to see it his way. When spender meets saver, sparks fly, and sooner or later, somebody explodes.
The Done Deal: A variation of the Big Spender fight, this is when one person opens the credit-card bill and -- surprise! -- sees the tab for the drum set, the new suit or the night your mate took the entire office out for drinks. The fantasy here is that because it's a fait accompli your better half will let it go. Oh, but they don't.
Jones Envy: People in their 40s who still like to compare SAT scores are most vulnerable to this one. It starts when the neighbors acquire a fancy new ski boat. You simply MUST have one, but your more practical-minded spouse fails to see this as an “emergency spending priority.” Do you listen? Apparently not.
Dowry of Debt: So when you were preparing to get married you never found the right time to disclose that you had a few debts. From, uh, law school, which you never quite finished. Or attended. You kinda forgot to mention the Nordstrom card and the maxed-out Visa, because . . . you're going to pay them off really, really soon. This is really, really unlikely.
Post-Holiday Pugilism: He: Did you really spend $200 on Dad's cashmere sweater? She: Me? You bought that deluxe CD set for your sister! The Visa bill has landed and those holiday spending blunders have come back to haunt you like the Ghost of Christmas Past. So you take it out on each other. Always a healthy choice.
Dribbling Deficits: The culprit in this case is not the ark or the drum set, it's the steady drip, drip, drip of spending on little purchases that no one tracks. You hit the ATM machine on Friday and end up broke on Monday with NO idea where the money went. An absence of facts rarely prevents couples from making accusations, however.
What, Me Retire?: The world can be divided into those who believe in saving for retirement and those who believe in the Retirement Fairy. If you’re married to the latter type, it can be difficult to imagine your future together. As one 401(k)'d friend of mine noted, after admitting that she tends to “boil over” at her husband’s lack of future planning: "You're afraid your spouse is going to end up on a park bench."
Blame It on the Boss: Are you the boss? Why are you asking me about how we’re going to pay for roof repair, if you're the boss? You're the one who pays all the bills and does all those spreadsheets. No, I'm not bitter. I don't feel disempowered. What do you mean you never asked to be in charge?! You TOOK charge. Did so.
Software Snafu: One of you is fanatically devoted to all the lovely budget and planning tools in your Microsoft Money or Quicken program. At the end of each month you have a terrific round of mutual recrimination because, sadly, you now know exactly where the money went.
The Kost of Kids: Nanny vs. day care; maternity leave vs. staying home; start the college fund now or later. When you're expecting or already have a brood, the choices -- and arguments -- are endless.
The Parent Trap: You've taken on the same financial role that your mother or father once played, but your partner doesn’t seem to know his or her role in the drama and isn’t ready to surrender the checkbook -- or commandeer it -- according to the unconscious script you're expecting the two of you to follow.
Out with the In-Laws: In the first five minutes of any visit, your in-laws will manage to push at least one of your big financial buttons. ("The house is so much smaller than it looked in the photo, especially given what you paid.") Ten minutes later, you’re both growling at each other.
For couples: 8 tips on how to talk about money
Fighting about money is as old as money itself, arising partly out of philosophical differences and partly from habits so old you forgot you had them. But now, at least, you can see all the ways they feed into those arguments you're not having.
1) Take a hike. Or a walk. "Men don’t like to open up about this," notes Lavine, "so having the discussion while you’re relaxed, out in the fresh air, will help."
2) ‘Fess up. Start by telling your partner what your own family’s attitudes and behaviors toward money were. (Hint: If you haven’t spent much time mulling over your family’s financial dynamics, do that first.)
3) Be humble. "Never assume your way is the right way," Liberman and Lavine advise. Listen to what your partner says and take it in. Their outlook may differ wildly from yours, but they hold their views as dearly as you hold yours, so be respectful, even if you disagree.
4) Establish common goals. Liberman and Lavine say that the worst fights couples have boil down to the fact that they haven’t planned their Big Picture goals yet. "You need to think about the various milestones in your life that will require money -- having kids, buying a house, caring for a parent -- and discuss them."
5) Quantify your goals. Barbara Steinmetz, a financial planner in Burlingame, Calif., says that once you’ve established even a small goal, like saving for a vacation, start to work toward it together. One couple she knows has a date every Saturday where they deposit a fixed amount into their Saving-for-a-House account. "The feeling of success will be a new financial bond between you," she says.
6) Get help. Talking to a financial planner together can help ease money tension, since it’s easier to address tough issues with an objective party. Or take a financial seminar together.
7) Don’t lay blame, take action. Let’s say your partner is in debt. Rather that fight about it (Hello: Arguing won’t reduce that monthly payment!), force yourselves to focus on a game plan. Taking steps to address the problem will remind you that you are, and always will be, a financial team.
8) If at first you don’t succeed. . . . Talking about money is hard, much harder than fighting. So if it takes a while to replace debates with discussions, don’t sweat it. "Even if you do it wrong, it’s better to communicate than to not say anything," agree Liberman and Lavine. Make it your new motto: Stop fightin', keep talkin'.