Money can be tough enough to manage on your own, but when you’re a mum juggling the family finances along with your spouse, it can be even more difficult.
If you’re sick of fighting about money, put an end to the madness with these tips.
Are you always battling with your beloved about money? Are the fights so loud that your kids bury their heads under their pillows? Or do money discussions always descend into a nagging whinge-fest where nothing gets resolved? If so, it’s time to sort things out before they get worse.
A recent survey by Relationships Australia found just under 85 per cent of people believe that financial problems are likely to push couples apart. Ouch!
The main sore points including different spending and saving habits, struggling through lean times, and money and children, can easily stress out anyone. Those strains can be intensified even more if you’re a stay-at-home mum who earns much less than your partner, or if you don’t earn anything at all because you’re busy looking after kids through necessity or choice.
If money is regularly driving a wedge between you and your partner, put some practical measures in place and get financially healthy with these tips.
If you’re not interested in ‘boring’ money, banking and bills, then it’s time to get interested. Part of everyone’s responsibility as a parent is to ensure their children are taken care of financially. This does not necessarily mean you have to bring in money yourself, but rather, you need to be aware of how much to spend or save to successfully meet your family’s needs. If you’d rather stick your head in the sand, it’s not fair to your children or partner.
Both parties should be in control of the finances. Victor Sun from Fox Symes and Associates who provide budgeting and debt solutions, says couples should regularly review their finances. Make a monthly date to sit down together to go through accounts, bills and goals such as an upcoming holiday.
“For example, if it’s coming up to Christmas and you know you’ll have extra expenses, you need to financially prepare,” says Victor.
“If you don’t regularly review and plan, things can also really go downhill if an unexpected thing happens like the fridge blows up.”
Making plans together removes the resentment that can arise if only one partner is always making the decisions.
Often, the most inflammatory situations occur when one partner is a saver and the other is a spender. And if that spender also happens to be a shopaholic, it’s no wonder the saver may melt down about yet another pair of new shoes suddenly materialising. Conversely, the spender may be resentful over being attacked, and may have good reasons for wanting to spend.
Stop the insanity by agreeing on a spending limit. For example, you could both allocate each other $100 a month to spend on anything. If one person wants to go above the limit, they can call the other first to clear it which shows consideration. This allocation should also be applied to stay-at-home mums who aren’t earning money, because their contribution to the family is just as vital as the breadwinner’s!
If either of you are constantly griping about paying bills or not setting aside money for kids’ schooling, then set up automatic drafts and repayments instead of rehashing the same old argument. Remember, if you don’t have to think about it, you’re probably not going to fight about it!
Do statements like “You’re always spending money!” and “You never pay bills on time!” sound familiar? If so, they’re not doing anyone any good. If you’re the one yelling, then calm down. It’s little wonder your spouse may feel attacked when accusatory statements are thrown around.
A better way to get your message across is to say something like, “I get frustrated when bills aren’t paid on time. How can I help you?”
Rather than lighting the fuse to an argument, you’re diffusing the situation by making it an even playing field.
If you’re dizzy from fights going around in circles, put a stop to them with practical steps. If you’re struggling to share a joint account, then get a separate one.
If you’re having trouble staying on budget, get a free app such as Pocketbook or TrackMySPEND. If you and your spouse are really having major financial troubles, seek the help of a financial counsellor through Financial Counselling Australia, or see a psychologist who can assist you both with new communication strategies.
If you think of your family as your own little company – the most important one you’ll ever run – then you and your partner need to work together as the joint chief financial officers.
After all, if you had to do the same with someone else in a professional setting, you’d find a way to work things out, right?
Both of you need to apply the same amount of diligence at home to become happier and wealthier.