I know what you are thinking. Nothing could kill the romance quicker than talking about money.
The problem is, that whether or not you talk about it, money will impact so many different areas of your life together. If you live your life with a committed partner, the best thing you can do for your relationship is talk about money.
For the next several weeks, we will teach you how to normalize the money conversation, get on the same page, budget together toward bigger goals, and eliminate money-related conflict.
If you find it hard to talk about money with your partner… If you fight about money…. If you are living a shared life with separate finances…. Keep reading.
No More Money Taboos: Admit You Need To Have The Conversation
You have no problem telling him that you hate how he leaves his dirty clothes on the floor by the hamper, but just can’t exert five seconds of energy to open the hamper and drop them inside. And you don’t hesitate to roll your eyes and snap at her to stop picking off your plate and order her own french fries!
But you aren’t honest and straightforward when it comes to money. You hesitate, hold back, maybe even full on avoid.
Talking about money is awkward because you don’t do it—it’s hidden and secretive. There is conflict because it’s an area where you don’t understand each other. It’s stressful because no one likes fighting and you’re both stressed about money to begin with.
So, it’s time to try a new approach. And we promise, if you commit to going all in with your partner financially, you will come out ahead in every way: more money and more love, less fighting and less stress. Woot!
Peel Back The Onion: Start The Conversation
Many of our deeply held beliefs about money are so fundamental—a product of who we are and how we were raised—we may not even be conscious of them. But it’s not just you anymore, so it’s time to dig deep, be honest and aware, and identify your habits, assumptions, and preferences regarding money.
And share them with your partner, of course. You may be surprised at how much you learn about your partner (and yourself!). Set aside time to talk it through with your partner:
What Habits Do You Take For Granted?
- Do you pay your bills as you receive them? All at once in a stack? Or at the last minute?
- Do you always save a portion of each paycheck for retirement or charity?
- Do you consider eating out a want or a need?
- Do you always know how much money you have on any given day? Do you track your spending?
- How do you decide if and when you can make a big purchase? Do you finance big purchases?
- Do you regularly use credit cards? Do you carry a credit card balance? Are you comfortable carrying some debt?
- Do you use cash?
- Do you buy something for yourself with every paycheck?
- Do you save money every month? How much? Only if there is left over?
What Assumptions Are You Making—Are They Shared Assumptions?
- Is Friday night always for eating out?
- Do you have certain hobbies or traditions that are important to you (no matter the cost)?
- What are your biggest goals for the next five years? Ten years?
- Is buying a house something you look forward to?
- Will you pay for your children’s education? Some of their education?
- Will your next car be a new car? A used car?
- Are experiences worth spending money on? More or less than things?
How Are You Wired To Handle Money?
- Are you a spender or a saver?
- How far ahead do you plan financially? Are you saving for your vacation or Christmas or retirement?
- If you get a bonus check or a tax refund would you blow it or sock it away?
- Is it retirement first for you? Or are you not thinking about that yet?
- Is a bonus check for blowing? Or socking away?
- Does a certain amount of money in your checking account make you feel secure?
- What is your risk tolerance?
The Numbers Don’t Lie: Continuing The Conversation
One of you probably makes more than the other, and one of you owes more than the other. It’s time to look at the cold, hard numbers. The point is not to make anyone feel guilty or inferior, quite the opposite—the goal is to get on the same page, and make the best decisions about your shared future.
Now that you (hopefully) understand a little bit more about what makes you (and your partner) tick financially, it’s time to take stock of your current situation. This is the time to put it all on the table—if there is anything you’ve been leaving out or downplaying, now is the time! Discuss where you stand financially today and where you want to be going:
- How much money do you make now?
- How much money do you consider enough?
- Do you want to work?
- Do you want to continue doing what you do?
- Realistically, will you make more money in the future? Is that important to you?
- Do you have debt? How much?
- Are you comfortable taking on more debt? For a car? For a house? For school? How much?
- What are your long-term financial goals?
Obviously, there is also the question about how you’ll get there (and obviously, the answer is budgeting together), but we’ll unpack that more fully next week.
More Is More: Keep Talking About Money
This isn’t a conversation that will happen just once. It won’t be done in an hour. This is the beginning of a lifelong conversation about your expectations, your dreams, your fears, your strengths, and your weaknesses—as individuals and as a team. Give it some time. Keep asking questions. Keep listening. Dig deeper.
Money can be the source of conflict, or a tool to achieve the life you want. There is a right answer and it starts and ends with talking about it!
Your Next Step
Budgeting is not restrictive. You won’t be spending less, you’ll be spending right. So what do you have to lose? Except all that debt and stress?