If you and your partner are like most couples, chances are, you fight about money. Numerous studies have shown that money is the No. 1 reason why couples argue — and many of the recently divorced say those battles were the main reason why they untied the knot.

While anyone will tell you that talking about money is the first step in resolving problems, talk alone won’t do the trick.

In fact, a 2004 study commissioned by SmartMoney magazine and Redbook, another Hearst publication (SmartMoney magazine and SmartMoney.com are jointly published by Dow Jones and Hearst), found that more than 70% of couples talk about money on a weekly basis. So what’s the problem? “Most of us don’t know to talk about money,” says Mary Claire Allvine, a certified financial planner (CFP) and co-author of “The Family CFO: The Couple’s Business Plan for Love and Money.”

“People tend to be emotional and reactive about money, not strategic,” she says.

When emotions run high, people tend to make fiscal mistakes. Allvine’s solution: Approach family finances as if you were running a business. “If you put a business metaphor into the picture, you’d be surprised how much more methodical people are.”

And so, to help make your next state-of-the-financial-union meeting run smoothly, we’ve assembled a collection of the six most common mistakes couples make when handling money issues, along with some advice on how to correct them. Do yourself a favor: Make sure all board members review this before you talk.

1. Merging the Finances 
The Wrong Approach: United we stand, divided we bank.
The Right Approach: It’s yours, mine and ours.

 

2. Dealing With Debt 
The Wrong Approach: Your debt will ruin us; you must find a way to pay it off.
The Right Approach: It’s our debt: Let’s decide how to pay it off together.

 

3. Keeping Spending in Check 
The Wrong Approach: I’m a saver and you’re a spender. That’s the problem.
The Right Approach: We both spend, but on different things. Let’s budget.

 

4. Investing Wisely
The Wrong Approach: You’re a risk-taker, I’m risk-averse. Hands off our retirement savings.

The Right Approach: Let’s think in time frames and take as much risk as our goals allow.

 

5. Keeping Money Secrets 
The Wrong Approach: What my spouse doesn’t know will never hurt him/her.
The Right Approach: Big financial secrets can ruin a marriage.

 

6. Emergency Planning 
The Wrong Approach: We’re fine. We don’t need to worry about money.
The Right Approach: Anything could happen. Let’s plan for emergencies.

 Resources

The Six Financial Mistakes Couples Make – SmartMoney.com

Financial Advice for Young Couples (Part 1 of 2) | Focus on the Family

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