Whether recently paired or married for decades, one-third of U.S. couples report finances as the leading cause of stress in their relationship, according to the American Psychological Association. Differing beliefs and money-management styles are often to blame for the conflict, says Eddie Ontiveros, business services manager at Landmark Bank in McKinney, but so is lack of communication. This year for Valentine’s Day, Landmark is sharing the following banking advice for couples.

1. Start at the beginning.

“It’s nearly impossible to move forward financially as a couple if you don’t know where you’re starting,” Ontiveros says. “Discuss debts and expenses, both individual and joined, and how you’ve been handling payments. Then ask yourselves: What’s working? What’s not working?”

 

2. Set clear goals.

Once they’ve established their current financial standing, couples should move their focus toward the future. What financial goals are you working toward?

“Do you want to pay off debt? Save for a house?” Ontiveros asks. “Write those goals down, and then prioritize those goals.”

Consider speaking with a banker or financial advisor during this process. There are benefits to paying down debt before saving for large purchases, and an expert will be able to advise you on your best course of action.

3. Craft a game plan.

For couples, crafting a game plan is twofold: creating a budget and determining your approach. With your financial goals in mind, creating a budget will help you decide where your money is/should be going. Determining your approach means deciding what tools you will use to get there, such as a checkbook, debit card, online money-tracking app, etc. This is also a good time to discuss joint and/or personal accounts and how money will be allocated accordingly.

“It probably goes without saying, but it is essential that couples go through this process together, even if they decide that one person will be in charge of paying bills or monitoring spending,” Ontiveros adds. “Whether or not a couple decides to use joint or individual accounts, the ‘it’s my money’ mentality is rarely helpful. Financial security comes when couples work together toward common goals, using a carefully crafted game plan that they both commit to following.”

Started as a family business more than 100 years ago, Landmark Bank began as a single branch in Mountain View, Missouri, and has since grown to serve customers in communities across Missouri, Texas and Oklahoma.

For more information about Landmark Bank, visit landmarkbank.com.