Nothing puts a strain on a relation like a money argument. The money’s not the culprit – it’s the way both parties handle the situation that dictates whether peace will reign or the gloves will come off.
Of course, you don’t have much control over the way other people respond, your best bet is to carefully consider your approach and not come with a defensive attitude.
Not all financial arguments are created equal. The way you approach your spouse, your boss, your family and your friends can really be different and can require a whole different tactic. These tips won’t work for everyone, but it’s a starting point for things to consider when you’re faced with a financial argument.
The Spousal Spat
This is the most common of them all. In fact, The Barna Group estimates the 80 – 90% of divorces are caused by financial disagreements. The stat isn’t that shocking. We’ve all experienced the friction of a financial flap with our significant other. For my wife and I, it’s usually from the stress that comes from knowing our bank account is low or from unexpected expenses. Having an emergency fund of at least $1,000 through the years has helped us avoid this stress, but doesn’t eliminate the fact that we always need to improve our communication skills. When we have clear communication channels in place (monthly budget discussions, goal setting, etc.) we avoid most arguments about money.
The Workplace Wrangle
Have you ever approached your boss about a pay raise or about an added benefit like a phone or computer? These conversations don’t have to end on a sour note. Avoid awkward arguments at work by doing your research and giving your manager a detailed list of things you’ve done to justify a raise or benefit like a company paid cell phone. Show them how the benefit will improve production or suggest additional responsibilities that will support the raise in pay.
Here’s the most important part: If you’re rejected, be careful not to burn your bridge by fueling the argument with harsh comebacks or excuses. Though it may sound counterintuitive, try to work harder and show that you’re committed to making the best of your job despite the financial argument. Your superiors should notice your efforts and if they don’t, you might just need to be on the look out for a place that does!
The Family Face Off
The best way to avoid this argument is to not lend to family at all! Just kidding…kind of. When lending money to family members, you should approach it with the attitude that the loan may be a gift. Also, if you are loaning to another Christian, I believe the charging of interest is prohibited (I will be posting a more in depth post on this soon). In the meantime, check out Deuteronomy 23:19-20 and Exodus 22:25-27 for more on the topic.
This is what Randy Alcorn said on the topic:
Throughout church history, Christian teachers have taken a strong position against exacting usury on a loan in order to make personal profit. Whereas usury is thought of today as charging excess interest, the word actually meant charging any interest. Ambrose said, “If anyone commits usury, he commits robbery and no longer has life.” Calvin declared that the professional money lender should be banned from the church. Luther commented, “After the devil there is no greater human enemy on earth than a miser and usurer, for he desires to be above everyone.”
It’s good to help family and to be generous, but if you anticipate the worst, and secretly consider the loan a gift, your family relationship will be in less risk of ruin if they don’t repay.
The Buddy Brawl
Ever lent money to a friend? What about collecting rent from roommates? For these situations, it’s generally good to have a contract in place or agreement already established, especially if there are payments involved.
If you come prepared with a simple contract regarding the terms of payment or rental agreements, you can avoid a few more arguments. Granted, arguments can still come up when working with money, but you’ll need to step back and ask yourself if the friendship is worth losing over the money involved.
The Adolescent Altercation
Your family might be different, but I think there’s value in associating pay with hard work– even in the family. Requiring kids to do chores in exchange for an allowance or wage is an invaluable lesson to teach your children. A lesson that will stick with them the rest of their lives and help them succeed. I can hardly remember arguing with my parents about money and I think it’s because of the way they emphasized hard work over handouts.
I wouldn’t expect too many people to set up an amortization schedule when their younger children ask for $20, but if they are of age, set clear guidelines – use an amortization schedule and make sure all parties know what is expected of them and hold them to it.
How do you deal with financial fights within your family and circle of friends?