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Couples and Money

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Ask some couples how often they discuss financial issues, and you could be greeted by blank stares. Ask those same couples how often they argue about money, and you might get an earful.

According to family counselors, finances are a major source of disagreement between couples. The reason for the discord? Partners often have different attitudes toward money. And that can make reaching financial planning decisions difficult. If one partner is a saver and the other is a spender, or if one partner is more comfortable with risk than the other, creating a saving and investing strategy that both partners buy into may not be easy.

Couples often ignore their money differences until a crisis hits. But talking about financial issues early in a relationship can prevent stress and friction down the road. If you and your partner disagree about finances, take some positive steps to resolve your differences.

Open the Lines of Communication. Choose a time to sit down with your partner and discuss your feelings about money. Attitudes about spending and saving often take root in childhood and usually stem from the way your families handled their finances. Knowing the basis for your feelings may give both of you a clearer understanding of your differences.

Come Up with a Saving Plan. If one partner wants to invest every extra dollar and the other wants to spend it, you’re going to have to compromise to keep both of you happy and on track with an investing plan. Choose a realistic amount to invest toward your goals, but set aside some money each month to spend on yourselves. The “spender” will be more likely to stick with a savings plan that leaves room for some indulgence.

Get a Second Opinion. How do you choose an investment strategy if one of you is an aggressive investor with a high tolerance for risk, while the other is a conservative investor whose goal is to preserve principal, even at the cost of earning lower returns that don’t keep up with inflation? If you share a single portfolio, ask your financial professional to help you work out a plan. Having someone who is objective review your financial situation and make suggestions may help you reach a compromise.

Become a Two Portfolio Household. If you and your partner can’t reach a compromise on your investments, you may want to have separate portfolios. The more aggressive investor can concentrate on equities, while the conservative partner can hold mainly fixed-income and cash investments.

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