Q&A with Sue Lynn Sasser
Marital financial decisions should be made together
Q: Here's a question for Valentine's month: What is the most important thing for couples to know about money?
A: First and foremost, couples need to realize that money basically has three purposes: purchase goods and services, pay existing bills or debts, and build wealth by increasing savings and investments. Money never should be used to control someone else's behavior in a relationship. Regardless of which spouse has the highest earnings, financial decisions should be made together with both partners as equals. Marriage is a partnership, and successful partnerships require open, honest communication.
Q: How can couples reduce the financial strains on their relationship?
A: Having well-defined goals is the best way to reduce the potential for fighting or power struggles over money. If both parties agree to save $10,000 in five years for a down payment on a new house or for a child's college education, then it is easier to discuss the steps needed to accomplish that goal. Just the process of setting specific goals helps build a common bond, keeping both individuals focused on what they agree is a priority. Of course, good communication is a critical component when working on those goals. Without knowing what they want and when they want it, couples often find themselves spending money and accumulating high levels of debt, which is the source of most financial disagreements.
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