Let’s talk about finances, baby, let’s talk about you and me, let’s talk about all the magical things that money means (if you are an 80’s kid, you know the actual tune this should be sung to). Yay! The one topic most couples love to talk about is money and finances…NOT. You may be surprised to know that most couples that I speak with have rarely had money chats and if so, they tend to only be in reaction to something (which surprise, surprise, never usually turns out to be a positive experience).
It’s no wonder that disagreements about money are the second leading cause of divorce. Lots of people talk about nurturing romance in a relationship, but it is equally important to nurture your financial relationship. Where to even begin setting your relationship up for financial success? Read on to learn more about talking about money with each other, sharing your financial goals and dreams, as well as your fears, figuring out your shared financial priorities, having sexy monthly money dates, and finding ways to work together as a team.
1. Keeping finances separate or combining. There are many things to think of before combining your finances and The Money Couple has a great list to help you review important considerations so you can decide what is the best method for your relationship. Her Money also lists 6 ways real couples are successfully managing their money which is useful for thinking through different strategies. There is no right or wrong way to do things, but it is important to make a conscious effort to be on the same page. Regardless of which direction you take, the strongest partnerships I have seen view their finances as a partnership and are completely transparent with each other’s financial decisions.
2. Create financial goals and priorities together. You need to take time to create both individual and family financial goals and prioritize the steps and actions to take in order to achieve those goals. If you don’t set goals, it’s like getting in your car and expecting your GPS to take you somewhere without inputting any information.
You may both want to pay off your home early, but if one of you thinks that planning more vacations for your family takes precedence, you need to find a compromise that takes priority.
3. Know your numbers. Being on the same page when it comes to money means both of you understand your numbers and what it takes to achieve your goals. Most people I speak with have no clue how they are spending their money and one of the first things to do to bring clarity is to connect an app like Monarch Money to your checking and credit card accounts. All you are wanting is data from this exercise and there should be no shame attached to any of the numbers. It’s just data.
Once you have a few months of data, then it’s time to get together and see what the numbers say. Are they aligning with your goals and values (see #2 if you have no goals)? Both of you being aware of the inflows, outflows, and how much you need to save for your goals will help align your finances.
4. Understand your relationship with money and take time to understand your partner’s relationship with money. Are you a saver? A spender? Do you like buying nice things? Do you appreciate money? Do you hate money? We all come into partnerships with our own relationship with money and usually, they are quite different. A great place to start understanding your differences is to take Ed Coamb’s Health Love and Money Attachment Style quiz. This quiz will help discover each of your attachment style and how it impacts your love and money story (there is also an awesome book by Ed if you learn best by reading).
After taking the quiz, review your strengths and weaknesses with your partner and learn how to best communicate with each other with the learned information. How can you create a partnership full of checks and balances to work together to create the magical life of your dreams?
Sometimes there is enough trauma surrounding money that one of you may want to avoid it at all costs. If this is the case, then it is time to talk with a financial therapist.
5. Have a sexy money monthly date. Set a date AT LEAST once a month in your calendars (DO IT NOW!) to review the data from your tracking app, talk about progress towards your financial goals, plan for purchases like vacations or replacing a new appliance, set new goals, and work together to strategize a plan.
Don’t know where to begin? This guide provides you with a structure with talking points to help you better understand your partner and their relationship with money. Don’t start the money date with blame or frustration with your partner. Before you sit down to talk about money, take a moment to share some gratitude around money. What are a few things that you bought this month that brought you joy? Any financial wins? Share with your partner one thing that you appreciate about the way they handled money this month. Did they buy groceries for the family? Did they take the time to fix something in the house before hiring someone to save some money? Did they spend time working on the finances? Always start your sexy date by taking a moment to center yourself in a place of gratitude.
6. Avoid financial infidelity. Financial infidelity is keeping secrets or lying about financial matters. This can look like having a secret bank account, lying about how much money you spend/save, or telling your partner the shoes were $10 less than they actually were. A survey reported that ⅔ of couples ranked financial infidelity as equally damaging to a relationship as sexual infidelity. If this sounds familiar, the first step you can take is to be transparent with your partner so you can work together to determine how you can both feel supported to work on this violation. A financial therapist (link in #3) can help you work through this process.
7. Get a referee. More often than not, it would be beneficial for your financial progress to get a third person involved when it comes to planning, communication, and accountability. This is especially important if you are having a hard time getting on the same page with each other. Consider hiring a financial therapist, a financial coach for help looking at the numbers and facilitating communication, or a financial planner to help you plan for the long term and help keep you on track for all of your financial dreams.
8. Don’t keep score, but set the rules. Don’t tally up wrong-doings or misspending and assign them to a single person and blame them for all of the household’s financial woes. If you haven’t set the rules, then there shouldn’t be a scoreboard. These rules could look like never buying something over $X without talking to your partner about it. Establishing limits to certain types of spending. Discussing what would happen if your partner loses their job. Discussing financial expectations for the stay-at-home parent. Set the rules and establish consequences for going out of bounds. Don’t set a consequence that you both aren’t willing to enforce.
Work through the list above to create a strong, powerful relationship with each other when it comes to your money and finances! One of the sexiest gifts you can give to your relationship is a strong financial foundation and being a contributing partner on your financial journey.