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VOL. 127 | NO. 159 | Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Dana and Ray Brandon

Squelch Those Money Squabbles

By Ray and Dana Brandon

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Ray’s Take Disagreements over money can literally tear families apart – it’s the No. 1 reason for divorce. One reason financial matters give rise to so much conflict is that only one person typically takes on family money management responsibilities. This easily leads to the other partner becoming financially oblivious and that imbalance can lead to problems.

It’s not reasonable to expect any two people to feel the same way about money. Accept that and find ways to deal with it.

The best way to bring a united front to your finances – and reduce money arguments – is to sit down together to devise a family budget. There’s that “B” word again. This way both parties understand the whole financial picture. One may tend to the day-to day operations, but both must have been involved with the structure.

It’s common for debt to be at the root of money squabbles. However, pointing fingers for what has been spent will not solve anything. Let the past stay in the past and resolve to fix the problems, not the blame. Start fresh, and work together.

Build a realistic budget plan together that stresses debt payment and includes saving. However, put the emphasis on “realistic,” or you’ll be setting yourself up for failure. Include a set amount of “play” money for each of you that is not dependent on the other’s approval or permission.

As you go through the budget-setting process, it’s important for each partner to understand that money means much more than mere dollars and cents. It can represent independence, control and a host of other attributes. Discuss what the spending and saving of money means to each of you. Once you recognize how each of you responds emotionally to money matters, you’ll have taken a big step toward ending the arguments.

Once you’ve built a budget together, don’t forget to keep dreaming of your future – together. You got together in the first place in anticipation of a whole lifetime. Keep dreaming about that future, and keep saving to make it come true.

Dana’s Take Opposites attract. The financial traits that drew us to our partners are often the very traits that drive us crazy later. The generous mate, after a few years, seems like a spendthrift. Your responsible guy becomes a tightwad. Fun and creative turns impulsive and irresponsible. Our partners don’t change but life brings friction.

Sharing money is hard. One partner always makes more money than the other. Making the spending side of that equation seem fair is like walking a tight rope.

If money arguments persist, a marriage therapist may be the best bet. An American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy-certified counselor can help a couple sort out power struggles and balance money roles. A good counselor can see where money arguments may mask deeper feelings like resentment, jealousy, loneliness and anger.

Don’t go another round with money squabbles and your marriage will be the winner.

Ray Brandon is a certified financial planner and CEO of Brandon Financial Planning (www.brandonplanning.com). His wife, Dana, has a bachelor’s degree in finance and is a licensed clinical social worker. Contact Ray Brandon at raybrandon@brandonplanning.com.

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