If money is a source of conflict in your relationship, you're far from alone. Research shows that financial issues are one of the most contentious topics for couples. One recent study found that money is serious source of conflict in nearly one-in-three relationships (31 percent).
And if how to spend and save is a tough topic generally, it can be even more vexing for couples where one partner (or both) is an entrepreneur. The uncertainty and ups and downs of starting a business only add strain to an already fraught subject.
So should you start saving to cover the cost of a marriage counselor or -- in even more dire cases -- a divorce attorney now? Nope, says Ted Beck, CEO of the National Endowment for Financial Education, in a recent and extremely helpful WSJ blog post. Rather than sticking your head in the sand or accepting the likelihood of eventual conflict, couples should get on the same page early about financial issues, he argues.
"It's better to confront and understand your financial compatibility sooner rather than later," Beck writes.
The most helpful part of the post is the tools he offers to kick off those discussions. Talking about money can be tense, we all know, but Beck says using quizzes to uncover potential sticking points and underlying financial beliefs can help keep things civil and constructive. He offers a pair of quizzes to help:
The Financial Identity Quiz
This quiz is "a first look at where you're headed on the path to financial independence, how dependent you are on your parents' teachings, and whether you're taking initiative to develop your own financial management style or are just focused on other things at the moment," he explains.
Taking the time to complete it and discuss the results with your partner can help you understand "the beliefs, values and other factors that influence your decisions" and "can help you better plan for the inevitable twists and turns in the road."
"To learn what drives your financial decisions, take the LifeValues Quiz," suggests Beck. "How you handle money is based on your social, financial, inner and physical values and taking this quiz will show you just how close or far apart you and your partner are financially."
If you cherish adventure while your better half values security, you'll do better if you discover that ASAP. "You can't change inherent values, but if you know what they are, you'll be better equipped to negotiate future financial decisions and understand where you can and can't compromise," Beck notes.
Have you and your partner tackled the tough money conversations you know you should have?