Marriage and other romantic relationships are about balance. Your spouse might be a dedicated introvert, while you can light up any room. Or maybe you love yard work, while your spouse would rather expend their efforts on the family car. These differences help keep marriage fresh and interesting. But when you and your spouse have different money philosophies, things can quickly go awry.
Research consistently shows that money matters top the list of topics about which couples fight. When you’re planning for your future, these fights can get ugly—especially if one of you is counting the days to a lavish vacation while the other fixates upon retirement. So how can you resolve the dispute? Try these strategies.
Meet With an Expert
It’s easy to constantly fight if you don’t even know what you’re fighting about. To have a measured, loving conversation, you and your partner need to know how much you need to retire. Schedule an appointment with a financial planner or other retirement expert to go over your options, so you can begin crafting a realistic plan.
Don’t Try to Control Your Spouse
Money fights are often about who gets to control what the couple does. Whether it’s one partner’s desire to ensure the couple quickly retires, or the other’s desire to spend a little extra here and there, fights over money are often power struggles. Don’t try to control what your partner does, or “forbid” him or her from making decisions. This will only worsen the conflict. Instead, listen carefully to your partner’s perspective so you can craft a fair compromise.
Talk About the Future
Talking about the future can help inspire both of you to get on track for a comfortable retirement. Spend some time talking about how you want your golden years to look. Do you want to move? Travel? Embark upon a new career? If you’re both able to see retirement as a reachable goal, not something you have to sacrifice your entire existence for, you’ll both be inspired to save more and spend less.
Make a Few Small Splurges
Once you get excited about retirement, you might be eager to sock away as much money as you can. For most couples, this is only sustainable for a brief period of time. Planning for retirement should not mean enjoying nothing about your life now. You should still travel, spend time on hobbies you love, and enjoy a few romantic dates. Splurges that improve your life—such as concert tickets and cooking classes—are well worth the money if you don’t have to go into debt to access them. It’s when you start spending money on useless possessions that you may need to be concerned.
Consider Other Options
Sometimes one spouse is overwhelmed by the prospect of retirement savings not because they want to spend the couple’s hard-earned money, but because they truly do not believe retirement is possible. If you are approaching retirement age with little savings, or if you are already in retirement and experiencing financial issues, one way to bridge this difference is to consider other options. A reverse mortgage can give you tax-free money to save or spend, allowing you breathing room to renovate your home, play financial catch-up, or even take a much-deserved vacation after years of saving.