Money is the most common source of a couple’s discord

On May 4, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) released the results of a phone survey of over a thousand nationally-representative sample of adults. The survey explored reasons for disagreements. Twenty-seven percent said disagreements over money are the most common, placing this subject ahead of all other topics, including children, chores, work and friends.

Within the topic of money,

Financial arguments most often are over differing opinions of “needs” versus “wants,” with 58 percent of those who argue about money identifying this issue as the most common cause. About half, 49 percent, most often argue about unexpected expenses and a third, 32 percent, argue about insufficient savings.”

My wife and I have counseled married and engaged couples over the years. Personally, the only surprise I have with the result is that money was not an even more important topic of disagreement than the survey indicated.

The solutions are all pretty basic, but are often ignored. Couples should:

  1. Set time aside to discuss money and spending, much as they would with any other important and recurring topic;
  2. Have a spending plan, and stick with it. Discuss together deviations from the previously-negotiated plan; and
  3. Avoid consumer purchase debt and credit card debt.  Debt should be used for purchases of assets like a home or car, or education that will directly increase one’s earning potential.

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