In love and money, sometimes opposites attract. She saves every penny, and he falls for every new electronic gadget. He invests in every hot technology stock, and she keeps her retirement savings in a shoebox under the bed.
If you're wondering whether you and your sweetheart are the only couple on the block sniping at each other about money, you might be interested in some recent findings by the Pew Research Center. Their survey of married couples found that about four in 10 regularly disagree about money:
- 13% often disagree
- 25% sometimes disagree
- 39% rarely disagree
- 23% never disagree
Younger couples, who may still be learning about each others' money personalities, tend to find themselves fighting over financials more often than older couples. Parents with children, who may have more reasons to be stressed over the household cash flow, also tend toward more frequent bouts.
The disagreements stem all the way to a seemingly innocuous question about who spends more time each month paying bills. There seems to be a disconnect -- 63% of wives say they pay the bills, but ask their husbands and only 51% say their wives pay the bills. (Mars and Venus seem to have gone their separate ways here.)
Even though marital spats over money seem to be pretty common, no one wants their romance marred by these mundane matters. Give your favorite valentine something more than chocolate this year by negotiating an end to some of your financial disagreements. By the way, it never hurts to butter up your sweetheart with a little chocolate before beginning.
Go on a money date. Start smoothing the bumps by getting to know you and your partner's money personalities. You've probably learned a lot of things through simple observation over the years. Even if you're a new couple, you can probably figure out some of your honey's money habits just by watching. Turn those powers of observation on yourself and think about your own money quirks.
Then, sometime when the mood is right, sit down and talk about your similarities and differences. Think of this as a fun, newlywed game exercise. Don't take it as an opportunity to nitpick your dearest over the $20 she spent on spy novels that she could have checked out from the library. Talk, instead, about your money upbringing, your spending priorities, and any areas where you're trying to improve your money habits.
You'll probably find a lot of common ground. Airing the differences may help you understand why your sweetheart spends like he does, and that can help clear the air before the next money battle erupts.
Set some mutual goals. It's often easier to meet on the path when you're traveling toward the same destination. Life can sometimes get so busy that we never get time to stop and ask where we're traveling.
Sit down with your honey and work out your top money priorities. Start by envisioning your retirement together, whether or not that includes some measure of work. Then move on to other priorities, which may include things like travel, college tuition, a new career, or the biggest television on the block. Whatever your goals, making a mutual decision about your priorities can put you both in a similar direction when it comes to making day-to-day money choices.
Establish a mutual investment fund. (Get it? A mutual fund!) It may not be as romantic as a candlelit dinner for two, but spending some time together picking investments can be an interesting learning experience. It may also get the less financially inclined partner more interested in saving and investing.
Instead of a shopping spree, take a look at the shopping stocks nominated by The Motley Fool CAPS community as the best retail stock for the year. Starbucks
Wondering who won the contest? Find out here.
All these ideas simply underline the importance of good communication when it comes to money. If you're looking for even more ideas that will help you and your sweetie in agreement, take a look at this month's issue of Motley Fool Green Light, free for 30 days. You'll learn how to reconcile your different investing personalities, and even get a few investment tips that will please him or her.
Fool contributor Mary Dalrymple can always be sweetened up with chocolate. She does not own stock in any company mentioned in this article, and she welcomes your feedback. Starbucks is a Stock Advisor pick. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.