You could save your relationship by being open with your partner about money – it may even prevent problems before they start!

Money is a hot-button topic for many couples, and can often lead to financial stress that may damage marital relationships. Financial issues canrange from having different money personalities to not understanding your partner’s debt. These issues may lead to fights that can harm your relationship, and even lead to breakups and divorce.

Thankfully, my wife and I no longer have money fights, and our life is relatively free of financial stress. We’ve worked hard to make sure that money isn’t a major source of dissatisfaction in our relationship. Here’s how:

1) Talk About Money Early, Before Financial Stress Sets In

I’m not saying you should evaluate who you do or don’t date just based on somebody’s money outlook. But if you get seriously involved with someone, I recommend making sure that you’re on the same side of the ledger, so to speak. At the very least, you should discuss your credit history, your attitude about debt, how you spend money, and how much you want to save for your future.

Don’t hold back anything that’s important to you. Surprising your partner about it later may not turn out so well.

My wife and I discussed our finances after only a few months of dating. It was easier for us because we were both in college at the time. The financial strains hadn’t set in yet, but there were still some tough topics to tackle.

We discussed our current debts and how we wanted to deal with money moving forward. Neither of us had a job or income at the time, but being financially responsible was a huge priority for both of us.

My wife ended up graduating with more than $80,000 in student loan debt. We both knew about her debt long before we got engaged. In fact, we worked on a plan and were making a dent in her student loans way before we tied the knot.

2) Agree on Major Purchases 

I always shudder at those holiday commercials where a husband surprises his wife with a brand new luxury car. The husband likely signed up for years of high car payments to purchase that car, and he didn’t even consult his wife. That’s how financial stress starts.

Major purchases should always be discussed in advance to make sure that both partners agree before the purchase is made.

In our household, buying anything over $200 merits a discussion. You and your partner can set that limit higher or lower, depending on your financial situation. Setting a hard limit will save yourself some awkward conversations.

3) Give Yourselves Allowances

One simple tool that my wife and I use to prevent money fights is to give each other an allowance. Each paycheck, we both get a set amount that we can spend on anything we want without having to ask one another. That amount is usually $50, but sometimes it’s higher. During rough times, it may be $0. Each of us can do whatever we please with that money, no questions asked.

4) Set Monthly Reviews

You should review your monthly income, monthly expenses, and your progress toward major financial goals at least once a month. It doesn’t have to be a long talk, but consciously setting a time to discuss what’s going on with your money will ensure that you’re on the same page.

If you’re not on the same page, use the time to have a conversation about what you both feel needs to change. It will also help to remind you of the goals that you’ve set as a couple.