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Ten tips

Learn how to talk, not fight, about money.

By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 15, 2002


Couples and cash: It's a combination that can lead to heated discussions, screaming matches and even painful breakups. The following tips can help you stop fighting, start listening and begin achieving financial goals together with your mate.

1. COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE. Financial planners say it's common for one partner to be completely unaware that the other partner has different financial priorities and goals. The only way to avoid this scenario is to talk honestly with each other about your financial expectations.

2. PICK THE RIGHT SETTING. Choose a good time to talk about money matters -- not, for instance, the moment you open up your credit-card statement. Try walking on the beach or strolling through a park and talking while you're relaxed.

3. DO SOME SOUL-SEARCHING. Reflect on whether you're unwittingly falling into the financial role you watched your mother or father play and feeling disappointed because your partner isn't filling the role you expect him or her to fill.

4. BE HONEST ABOUT YOUR DEBTS. You're guaranteed to provoke a fight if you fail to let your mate know about debts you've accumulated, whether they come from student loans, credit-card purchases or some other means.

5. LISTEN CAREFULLY. It can be one of the hardest things to fathom when money is involved: Your way may not necessarily be the only way or the best way to handle the finances. Listen respectfully to your mate's point of view and give it some serious thought.

6. SET GOALS TOGETHER. You may be squabbling because you still need to agree on your long-term goals and financial realities as a couple. Do you plan to buy a house? Buy a car? Have children? Care for an aging parent?

7. WORK TOGETHER TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS. No matter how large or small of a goal you set, whether it's paying off debt or saving for an upcoming vacation, be determined to help each other reach it. As you succeed in meeting goals, your bond will grow.

8. CONSIDER SEEKING OUTSIDE HELP. Getting guidance from an objective party such as a financial planner can go a long way toward reducing tensions over money.

9. KEEP YOUR FOCUS. You two are a financial team. Rather than hurl accusations at one another, stay focused on ways to address whatever financial problems you may be facing.

10. DON'T GIVE UP. It's much easier to fight about money than it is to discuss it rationally and handle it successfully. Resist the urge to fall back into any bad patterns; instead, keep trying to set new, healthy ones.

-- Compiled by Laura T. Coffey. Sources: MSN Money (moneycentral.msn.com/home.asp); The Knot (www.theknot.com)

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