By Matt Allen
In “The State of Our Unions” report, Jeffrey Dew of Utah State University shared his research findings that couples who reported disagreeing about finances once a week were more than 30 percent more likely to divorce than couples who reported disagreeing about finances a few times per month.
Debt is a primary cause for a broken marriage no matter which party is responsible for it, and it doesn’t matter if couples are rich, middle class or poor. Fueling the erosion of a marriage is consumer debt (e.g. credit card debt), according to Dew.
“Consumer debt fuels a sense of financial unease among couples, and increases the likelihood that they will fight over money matters,” Dew wrote. “Moreover, this financial unease casts a pall over marriages in general, raising the likelihood that couples will argue over issues other than money and decreasing the time they spend with one another.”
Financial disagreements tend to be more noticeable, last longer and use negative conflict tactics, such as yelling, than other marital problems, according to Dew.
He theorizes that because men are deemed by society to be providers, they take the financial conflict especially hard.
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So how can you take care of finances before they ruin your marriage?
Here are four effective tips to maintain your financial health:
1. If you owe money, calculate the total amount owed to the creditors including the interest and the penalty charges. Merge your multiple debts into a single low-interest loan to make the monthly payment affordable.
Once you pay off your owed amount then you can save a considerable amount of money and even start putting that money toward future education expenses for your children.
2. Maintain a record of your monthly expenses in an Excel sheet so that you can check the amount flowing out of your account. This will help you to avoid over expenditure.
Try to incorporate detailed information in the Excel sheet, as it will help to get a better overview of the total amount spent at the end of the month. Maintain the receipts in a file so that you can tally them with the data on the expenditure sheet.
3. Formulating a budget can help you curb your expenses and avoid defaulting on your payments. You can pay off your debts more quickly if you are under an organized budget. Keep reviewing your monthly budget and change it according to your financial situation.
4. Avoid using credit cards, as it can be a reason for incurring more debts. Use cash so you spend within your means. Credit cards tempt you to spend more than you can afford, so you need to restrict your desire to exhaust your plastic money.
Dew’s research indicates “newlywed couples who take on substantial consumer debt become less happy in their marriages over time. By contrast, newlywed couples who paid off any consumer debt they brought into their marriage or acquired early in their marriage had lower declines in their marital quality over time.”
It’s important to rein in your financial problems now before they compound and possibly ruin your marriage.