Money is one of the main reasons couples fight. A personal finance story from Monday found that the recent troubles in the economy, stock and labour markets have led Canadians to sit down and discuss their finances more frequently, drawing some spouses closer together.
That said, there is still plenty of he-versus-she bickering going on over dollars and cents. Although budgeting, saving, spending and investing are not the sexiest topics around, experts agree that couples need to be united on the direction of their family's personal finances. Without clear communication, financial differences, misunderstandings and insecurities can tear a marriage apart.
Kelley Keehn, a financial expert based in Edmonton, spent 12 years working as a financial planner. She is the author of six books, including She Inc., The Woman's Guide to Money and The Prosperity Factor for Kids. Ms. Keehn joined us on Tuesday, June 23, at noon (ET) for a live online discussion. Your questions and her answers will appear in the space below.
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Roma Luciw, Globe Investor: Hi Kelley. Thanks for joining us today to discuss the thorny issue of love and money, specifically why it is that couples tend to argue over finances. Given that many people out there are struggling with the economic downturn, having either lost their job or seeing their investments get wiped out, it could be surprising to hear that money has actually brought some Canadian couples closer together. So I am going to start off this discussion by asking if you believe that money can actually unify a couple during a period of financial crisis?
Kelley: I do agree that couples can use this time of economic downturn and job losses to work together financially. As it's in the media daily that all of us need to be more frugal and resourceful, I think it opens up the opportunity for dialogue and breaks down (somewhat) the taboo of talking about money.
Balbinder Mahal: Hi Kelley. My wife is not working because they have shut down her company. So we now have two kids, a house and a single income, plus we are paying for school. All of this adds up to daily arguments and puts a strain on our relationship. How this can be avoided?
Kelley: I'm sorry to hear that Balbinder. During such a stressful time, there is no doubt that the arguments are daily. But you will get through this and need more than ever to agree to be a team and family unit. That way, once your team is back on it's feet, it will be much stronger and more creative for getting through the downturn.
First, is your wife looking for other work at the moment? Get her to make a list of all her skills and of things she enjoys. There might be a side businesses that she could start until she finds something suitable. You might discover that she could take an expense, such as your car, and perhaps turn it into a profit make by starting a driving service for seniors to get groceries or go to their doctors' appointments.
What your family needs right now is a budget. So here's what I'd like you to do. Have the family agree to have a money meeting and promise them that it will be fun. If you make a budget and discover you can afford to spend no more than $400 a month on food, dining and entertainment, and are actually spending $800 a month, that could drastically cut down on your daily arguments.