When you get into a relationship, fall in love, and eventually get married, the question of how financially compatible you are with your spouse may not cross your mind. However, when money problems begin, it becomes abundantly clear that a fundamental gap in your money styles, perspectives, or goals is harming your ability to see eye to eye. Finding this out when something is already going wrong makes a difficult situation worse. That’s why it’s a good idea to determine how financially compatible you and your spouse are long before the first fight over money takes place.
What is financial compatibility?
In the simplest sense, financial compatibility involves similar views on money matters. This is especially true of shared points of contention – such as spending or saving habits – and shared goals. While you and your husband don’t have to think alike. The ability to both understand and respect another person’s point of view is a critical part of the equation.
Usually when your views on money are so different that you don’t make sense to each other. Your chances of conflict are certainly higher. Likewise, if you can’t talk about your differences respectfully, it could be a sign of incompatibility.
How to determine that you are financially compatible with your spouse
Determining how financially compatible you are with your husband is not as difficult as it seems at first glance. Often, by examining a few key points in your relationship, it’s easy to see if there’s a disconnect. Here are some questions to help you get started.
Can you talk about money peacefully and honestly?
If it’s easy to talk about finances and you and your spouse feel comfortable enough to be completely transparent about your money decisions, that’s a sign of compatibility. This means you feel confident in your ability to be honest and understand each other well enough to see things the same way, making it easier to feel okay with your spouse’s financial choices.
If talking about money usually leads to arguments, that’s a red flag. This can mean that you have fundamentally different views on financial matters, making them a point of contention. Likewise, if one spouse hides transactions from the other, it indicates a fear of being judged, which can cause problems in the relationship.
Have you seen each other’s credit reports (and scores)?
Today, getting a free copy of your credit report requires little more than a trip to AnnualCreditReport.com, a few clicks and some personal information. Since this is the case, there is no reason why spouses should not sit down and review each other’s reports together. If you or your spouse resists the idea, it indicates a potential trust issue, which is not a good thing.
Similarly, spouses should have at least a general idea of each other’s credit ratings. In many cases, at least a free VantageScore can be accessed through various programs, and free FICO scores are available through many lenders and some services. Again, if you or your spouse are too anxious to reveal this information to each other, that’s a red flag.
However, if you’ve both seen this information or are comfortable sharing it right now, it shows that you’re comfortable enough to review reports and scores and have appropriate discussions. As a result, you are probably at least somewhat financially compatible.
Are you on the same page about budgeting and saving?
Financially incompatible couples rarely see eye to eye when it comes to budgeting or savings goals. If you have different opinions about spending or paying off debt, this is a potential problem. If you also can’t agree on how much you should put away or the purpose of why you’re saving, this can also lead to problems.
Without financial compatibility regarding budgeting and savings, one spouse may take actions that fundamentally conflict with the other spouse’s needs, preferences, or desires. If that happens, disagreements are essentially guaranteed.
However, when you’re pretty much on the same page, arguments about budgets, savings, and spending are often rare. While you may have disagreements from time to time, the issues are usually big enough to turn into something more than a simple discussion.
Do you spend large sums of joint money without talking first?
Most spouses agree that major purchases should be discussed before money changes hands. If you or your spouse don’t think about spending large amounts of money or shared money without talking to your partner, it could be a sign of a disconnect.
In some cases, not having this conversation comes across as disrespectful. This is especially true if the other spouse believed the money was going to another purpose, such as paying expenses or saving for a specific purpose.
In contrast, if you both reach out to each other frequently to talk about big purchases before they’re made, it shows that you respect each other enough to keep everyone on board. Or in the case of unavoidable and legitimate emergencies, it highlights that you don’t want your spouse to be surprised, so you’re proactive in keeping them informed, which is also a positive.
What if financial compatibility is an issue?
If you and your spouse aren’t very compatible financially, that doesn’t mean the relationship can’t work. Instead, it may take more effort to build a solid foundation. A trip that can be beneficial if you are largely compatible in other areas of your life.
In some cases, the best option will be to enlist the support of a financial therapist who specializes in couples. They can help you deal with your different views on money. They can help you find common ground and develop financial plans that you both feel comfortable with. They are equally adept at handling the monetary aspects as they are the emotional ones, allowing you to tackle challenges on both fronts to make rapid progress.
In addition, it is important to create opportunities for open, honest conversation. In addition, it is necessary not to hide any financial activity from others. By starting there and adding financial therapy, you can make noticeable progress, allowing you to build compatibility over time.
Are there any other ways couples can find out how financially compatible they are with their spouse? Have you noticed any red flags in your relationship that you’d like to share? Were there any unexpected good signs that you don’t want people to overlook? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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Tamila MacDonald has worked as a financial advisor in the Army for the past 13 years. She has taught personal finance classes on everything from credit to life insurance, as well as all other aspects of financial management. Mrs MacDonald is an AFCPE Accredited Financial Advisor and has helped her clients achieve their short and long term financial goals.