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Need ways to budget, save, and simplify in these stressful times? Start here with our on going series over the next few months where we will cover some common questions with a plan of action.

Q. What can my spouse and I do to avoid arguing about money these days?

A. The key to keeping the peace is communication – and not the kind that’s at the top of your lungs. Sit down once a week for a ‘money matters meeting’.  Take 45 minutes to talk money. The point of these conversations is not differences, but common goals. So less “You spent $300 on golf shoes!” and more “How can we save $400 more a month for retirement?” (Assigning blame only creates tension.) Tame the emotions by focusing on the facts: Name the goals, and then brainstorm ways to accomplish them. Review progress regularly. If differing spending habits keep getting in the way, consider setting up separate accounts for mad money, so you each have freedom within limits.

Couples’ conversation starters

  • What is my biggest money worry nowadays?
  • What are my top three savings priorities, in order of importance?
  • What am I pleased with about our financial life?
  • Is there anything I want to understand better about our finances or wish that we could investigate together?
  • If we had to cut back on spending, what three areas would I choose? What three would I avoid cutting?
  • Are there any important money tasks I think we have been procrastinating on?

Action Plan

  • Don’t sweat the small stuff: Agree to a dollar amount, say $150 that you can each spend at one time without the other’s okay.
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