Being honest with your spouse about finances can be a challenge, especially with today’s difficult economic conditions. Families are forced to reevaluate their budgets and make difficult decisions to cut back on items that they once considered essential, but now are deemed luxuries. In a recent poll conducted at American Consumer Credit Counseling, we found that 60 percent of women and nearly half of all men responding admitted in some way being dishonest about money with their spouses.
There is no doubt that American consumers are keeping secrets about money – most often out of guilt about spending and debt or to avoid creating worry. Close to 20 percent of all men and women surveyed said they’ve kept money secrets of some kind so they wouldn’t worry their spouses with the truth.
But what many couples don’t understand is that by avoiding conflict and not being completely honest about their finances, they are essentially not addressing the problem at hand and not being proactive about finding a solution together.
Money is the number one culprit in marital misunderstandings and though the financial reality can be difficult to face, there are steps that you and your spouse can take together to address spending habits and create a budget that works for both of you.
The first step is to get a firm sense of your current finances by adding up all of your assets and all of your debt. This will help to lay out a solid foundation which you both can work from.
Secondly, be open about your spending habits. Know why you are spending money on something and weigh the benefits short and long term. How will this impact my family? Is it going to put us in a deficit and make it difficult to pay for our real needs versus wants?
Lastly, create a realistic budget that you both agree to. It is important to know where your money is going and by laying your finances out and holding monthly check-ins each month, tracking spending will be much easier and eventually the conversation won’t be so hard.
Realize that you are not alone. All couples encounter financial difficulty at some point in their relationship, especially when one out of five families owes more on credit cards, medical bills, student loans and other unsecured debt than they have in savings – according to a University of Michigan Study. Financial outlooks and scenarios for most families are tough and by being open and honest with your spouse or partner about your spending, it can make this difficult period a little less stressful.