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(from redbook.com)

I don’t know about you, but when I’m worried about money, it’s really hard for me to focus on anything else, whether it’s work, my friendships, or my relationships. In fact, I spent this past weekend knee-deep in receipts and credit card statements, determined to get a better hold on my finances-and sticking to a budget. I made some cuts, including cancelling my gym membership and relying on the kindness of free passes given out by health clubs, deals offered by yoga centers, and good old-fashioned pavement pounding.

With my finances in such a flux, it’s almost a relief to NOT be in a relationship. So many of my married friends are having money meltdowns on a daily basis-and they’re not alone. Apparently, 23% of couples say they work together to plan their financial lives.

But, there is hope. Here are three ways to make sure your relationship isn’t ruined by finances.

1. Go for a goal

Figuring out your financial goals may sound daunting, but it’s nothing to dread: Sit down regularly to make a list – without consulting each other – of your money and life goals for three time periods: the short term (six months down the road), mid-term (six months to three years) and long term (over three years). Then, bring those to your partner to compare and see which goals you want to work to together.

2. Talk about Cash-Even if you’re in a crunch

The best way to keep money fights at bay is to have regular pre-appointed money dates. During your money dates, make sure neither of you is stressed out or tired and that you don’t have a big project (like filing your taxes) looming over you.

3. Take account of all your accounts

When it comes to managing accounts – his? hers? ours? mine? – every couple has to find their own solution, which may take some time. The important thing is to take an honest look at both of your financial styles and set up a system that suits you, and also to be flexible and reassess it as your incomes and priorities evolve.

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