Dec 1, 2008

Guest Post: Is Your Credit Card Causing You To Sleep on the Couch? Handling Money in a Relationship

This is a guest post from Jonathan at Master Your Card, where you can learn how to make your credit card debt history. Check out his post on How to use the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to your advantage.

Ah, love. It makes the world go round, it puts that spring in our step – and it can come to a screeching halt at the sound of a credit card plunking on a retail counter. Money is a major headache for couples. It’s the thing that causes those all-out fights and those seething little comments that last for days. Luckily, there are ways to avoid the biggest money relationship blunders so that you can avoid sleeping on that lumpy couch again.

Tell me lies, baby

You know lying is never a good idea, and lying about money is no different. There is no point in pretending you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth if you’ve just been scraping by and no point in hiding money while claiming you’re broke. You don’t have to tell your partner what you’re worth down to the last penny but you should not be pretending to be something you’re not.

The spender and the scrimper

Welcome to the third circle of hell. Is there any worse mismatch than the spouse who loves to shop and the partner who considers every penny? If you’re addicted to shopping and your partner has a fetish for savings – or vice versa – you can expect a lot of conflict. The spender tends to see the scrimper as an ungenerous tightwad and the scrimper tends to see the spender as a frivolous dolt who will drive both parties into debt. A first solution here is to separate expenses and accounts – that way, the spender will feel less judged and the scrimper will feel more in control of his or her money. Understanding and lots of talking will go a long way towards soothing out some hard feelings. This is also one of those situations where a third party may be needed – ideally a professional who has counseled couples in similar predicaments.

The Siamese twins

Everything has been going so well for three months that you decide to move in together. And if you’re living together you need a joint account and maybe some joint credit cards to take care of shared living expenses, right? Not so fast, lovebug. Just because your expenses are shared that does not mean you money is, too. It’s likely best to maintain separate accounts for at least a little while. Each person can pay half the rent with their checks and half of the bills online. It’s a good way to test money compatibility before linking your financial futures together. And look out for shared debt – including credit cards. If your honey bunny turns out to be not quite the person you thought they were, you are still responsible for the debt. You don’t want to end up with a broken heart and a wrecked credit rating.

The money fight

Maybe you are financially compatible. Maybe you agree about most things. You still need to learn how to fight fair about money, because money disagreements will happen. He will wish you brought home more of the bacon or she will wonder why you never splurge on special dinners or gifts. So learn to fight in a way that doesn’t wreck everything. If you disagree work it out calmly and in private, without slinging around terms like “bimbo” or “tightwad.” That hurts as much as that bad sofa.

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