Valentine’s Day and talking about financial planning at the same time doesn’t sound very romantic. Yet, having a heart-to-heart about money can help you avoid serious conflicts in your relationship. So how do you find financial bliss with your honey? The more effectively you can communicate and plan for your future finances, the better.
Here are my top 5 dos and don’ts to building an aligned and prosperous financial life:
1. Do talk. There is no one right way to handle money in a relationship. However, you or your partner may think there is! The first step in smart planning is to open the lines of communication. To start the discussion, ask open ended, probing questions. Make sure you share your answers to these questions, too. You’ll gain an understanding of each other’s values about money.
What’s most important to you about money?
If we were working as a team with our money, what would our finances look like five years from now?
If you had the ideal financial situation, what would it look like?
2. Don’t slight your partner. Instead of deciding they’re nuts when it comes to money, learn your partner’s money story. According to cellular biologist Bruce Lipton, we develop most of our subconscious beliefs between conception and age 7. This includes our beliefs about money. We are all brought up with different attitudes and beliefs about money. And, “different” can sometimes mean “wrong” when people fight about money. Here are some questions to get started:
What financial lessons did each of you learn?
Were your parents savers, hoarders, spenders?
Did your parents talk freely about money? Was it a secret?
Did you take care of yourself financially?
3. Do find balance. It’s easy to see your partner’s financial actions as wrong if they aren’t handled in the same way as you would handle them. Many arguments start when one feels the other is spending too much money. Another area of conflict is when one partner feels controlled by the other with respect to spending money. This is not an easy one to tackle. There is no one right way to handle cash. The trick is to find the way that works in your marriage. Discuss and design effective ways to handle cash and spending together. Some couples set up three separate checking accounts: one for household expenses, one for his expenses and one for hers. This way each one has control over his or her own expenses. Some couples need to design a prioritized spending plan. (Here’s how to set up your spending plan: https://www.ellenrogin.com/toss-your-budget-this-works-so-much-better/)
If you are a planner and he’s more spontaneous (or as you say, haphazard) can you find a way to see how this approach can help you to live more in the moment? So think to yourself:
Where am I making my spouse wrong about money?
Is there a way that this could actually balance out my approach?
4. Don’t ignore the money talk. Set up a monthly meeting to talk about family finances. And why not make these meetings fun? How about planning brunch at a favorite restaurant and make these meetings something you look forward to! Planning your future lives together can be one of the most meaningful and important steps you can take as a couple to create a happy financial relationship. Here are some questions to think about when you set financial goals together:
Have you discussed where you want to be financially in 5 years, 10 years and 20 years?
What do you and your partner want for yourselves, your family and your community?
What is the financial impact of these goals? For example, if you desire to travel to China in 5 years, how will you save for this goal?
Have you discussed the funding of your children’s education?
Have you agreed upon a savings and investment strategy?
5. Do be honest. Come clean with all things financial, instead of hiding money secrets. Money secrets will drive a huge wedge in your relationship. It’s like having a financial affair.
Do you want important information kept from you?
Do you make purchases and hide them from your partner?
Do you pay cash so he/she won’t know what you spend money on?
Do you have debt or bad investments that you are hiding?
Solid communication about money and effective planning as a couple will help you and your partner share many happy years together.