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How to avoid arguments about money

It's no secret couples fight about money, but it may surprise you just how often they do.

A study by Harris Interactive finds that couples of all ages average three arguments a month about money, but those between ages 45 and 54 report four or more of these fights every month.

So, what's the top grievance? Spending, of course! It's spouses who disagree about "needs" versus "wants." What's interesting is that the Harris researchers found many couples still bickered over that after being married for years - or even decades.

While it'd be great to think partners could compromise on spending, what works well for many couples is to set a bar for major purchases. Maybe it's $50, maybe it's $500. But anything over that amount has to be a joint decision. 

Another big source of friction is providing financial support to family members. These fights can actually intensify the closer you get to retirement, thanks to the "boomerang" phenomenon of caring for both children and aging parents.

What's important is that you act as a team - the last thing you want is one partner to be a pushover with no limits attached to the financial help, while the other one steams. 

Talk, then talk some more. Better yet, you may want to draft a trusted friend or financial advisor to give you an objective point of view.

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