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Contributor Blog: In Relationships, Money Communication Is Key

Monday, 11 Aug 2008 | 4:17 PM ET
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Kelley Keehn

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Kelley Keehn
On the Money Contributor

Experts tell us that with divorce rates hovering around the 50% mark and money issues topping the number one cause of nuptial break downs, couples can't afford not to talk about it.

Andrew and Angela, the couple struggling with money issues in their relationship, are money opposites so it's no wonder the disagreements ensue. Often times, we choose friends that are very similar to us (if you're a spender or saver your friends usually echo your style). But so often, we choose a spouse that's the total opposite of our style. Consider this: not only do opposites attract but money opposites are actually a great thing! Andrew needs Angela's pragmatic approach to debt repayment, caution of new major purchases and her keen financial management. Andrew brings lofty goals, possibilities and a sense of enjoying the quality of life to the table. Angela's teaching Andrew fiscal responsibility and he's teaching her to enjoy her money more.

The key to a successful marriage with money is dialogue so that feelings of resentment do not build up over time. Furthermore, with most couples, one spouse takes the financial reins while the other might gladly sit back and hope for the best.

For all couples, it’s very important to schedule a monthly money meeting, as I said on Friday’s show. This doesn't need to be a daunting task. Take anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour to to discuss money, spending, dreams and goals to ensure you're both on the same financial page.

Also, think about opening a stash account. With potential conflicting personalities, each spouse should always have a secret stash that's just their own for spending as they wish without justification. It's difficult to go from a single status, entirely in control of your own spending and saving to a relationship where justifying each purchase can seem overwhelming. Determine together a set percentage or dollar amount (perhaps 1% of the gross monthly income or $100 a month, for example) that will be allocated to your own personal account.

You might even consider opening a "couple account" saving each month for date nights, romance and vacation.

With clear rules, roles and open dialogue, finances don’t have to drag down your life as a couple.

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