It is commonly reported that financial issues are one of the top reasons that couples disagree or fight. Certainly, money is a topic that can bring much stress to a relationship. Add the craziness of a modern military marriage, with its limited communication and frequent separations, and the possibility for problems increases dramatically.
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent disagreements and misunderstandings about money. While it is easy to summarize the overall battle plan as "communication," there are specific tactics that can ensure that the communication is effective and efficient.
- Share information. Both partners need to know about your assets and liabilities, your cash flow, and your overall financial picture. The level of detail that an individual feels they need to know is up to that individual - their partner should respect their wishes for information.
- Work together. Financial plans have the best chance of succeeding if both parties have had a chance to create the plans. The doesn't mean that one partner makes the plans and the other partner is coerced into agreeing, but rather that there is actual back and forth discussion before agreement.
- Set big, long-term goals. Do you want to buy a house? How long do you want to keep working? What type of lifestyle appeals to you? For newlyweds, some common goals might include starting and funding IRA/TSP/401k account, buying furniture, paying off student loans or credit card debt, or saving a small emergency fund. Once those goals have been accomplished, move on to other goals. Having a big goal makes it easier to stick to your plans.
- Consider setting rules for yourselves, such as not making any purchases over a certain amount without consulting the other party, or never carrying a balance on your credit card.