How your money habits impact relationships

February 1, 2010 4:03:38 PM PST
Why your relationships suffer because of them and advice on how to change them.

Advice from Larry Tobin (see bio below) on money and relationships:

In any relationship, money can be a sensitive topic. A person's own values and habits around money directly affect a partner, loved one or even a roommate. Individuals need to look at their current beliefs and habits to develop a relationship that's not affected by money. The end goal is that money becomes a source that inspires trust in the relationship, as partners work toward a common goal.

Discuss money expectations with your partner: This seems like a no-brainer, but people enter into relationships with different spending habits, and this often overlooked sore point leads to tension.

Create a luxury fund: Many couples share a bank account that goes entirely to food, bills and household necessities. A luxury fund account provides a way to keep the guilt out of indulging every once in while.

Stay in the Moment: Don't let the worst-case scenario play over and over in your mind and adversely affect your relationship. Focus on your current situation by telling yourself, "Right now, I'm OK." Even though your thoughts are going to take you into the future, you have a choice about whether you want to go there with them.

Saying No: Many people are afraid to disagree with their partners when it comes to money decisions because they are afraid of the confrontation and/or hurting the other person's feelings. Saying NO to your partner is a necessary part of any working relationship. By setting boundaries in those areas that are important to you, you can preserve the feeling you have for each other. No amount of money in the bank can do that, but saying "No" can.

Unplanned Expenses: You and your partner can take the stress out of unplanned expenses by looking at your account statements for the last 12 months and listing all the bills you didn't expect-unplanned auto and home maintenance repairs, medical expenses, gifts or parties, spontaneous weekend getaways, new clothing, pet expenses, etc. Add them all up and divide by 12. Save this amount each month so that when unplanned expenses happen, you can cover the expense and go about your business.

The Should Trap: Stop saying "I should be saving and not spending" or "I should be making more money." When you realize you "should be" doing something else, you fall into the Should Trap. Then self-criticism, judgment and negative feelings set in. In relationships, your partner may also think you "should be" doing something that you're not. Ask yourself what it is you really want-or don't want. Examples: "I want to afford that vacation" or "I want to spend more time with my family." Most of your wants will connect to two things: money and fun. So combine them. Replace "should" for "want" -then make it fun.

Words Have Power: Statements like "I'm poor," or "I'm broke," establish patterns in your brain that can be ultimately self fulfilling. And the same holds true for any labels you might use about your partner.

Forgive and Prosper: Don't keep looking back and blaming each other for financial missteps. Remembering is good, it's how we learn. But we also need to learn the art of forgiving. Learn from mistakes and work together as partners toward solutions that support you both.

Acknowledgement: Money wasn't the reason that you got together. Remember the true reasons. It was probably based on feelings of caring, love and mutual respect. Spend some time each night to remind each other (and yourself) of this.

About Larry Tobin:
Larry Tobin is the co-founder of Habit Changer and an expert on the awareness of habits. Tobin realized it was the awareness of his bad habits-the why's and how's-that led him to replace them with good, healthier new habits. After 18 years of leading several tech companies to success, Tobin's life-long struggle with bad habits such as smoking led him to create a new site that would help others. Tobin and his team have developed Habit Changer, a site with online programs that help participants replace bad habits in the areas of healthy living and healthy eating with well known techniques embracing cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness and neuroplasticity.

Habit Changer is the first online source of programs that give participants the tools to make positive and lasting life changes. Launched in late 2009, San Francisco-based Habit Changer offers fundamentally sound techniques and unique tips that help participants get to the root of their behavior in order to replace bad habits with good ones. One of Habit Changer's programs is "Money & Relationships." Website: