Financial conversations with your partner can bring a whole new complexity to any relationship. They can be uncomfortable, awkward, scary even. But it’s incredibly important to lay it all out there and get on the same page. Why? Because financial troubles are a big reason why many relationships fall apart. The dynamics get even more complicated if you have different money philosophies altogether: saver vs. spender, debt-free vs. debt-laden, thrifty vs. indulgent.
What should you do if you discover the person you love is the yin to your financial yang? Here are a few suggestions:
Lay the ground rules. Building a strong financial foundation takes time. Be respectful of each other and understand we all have solid reasons why we handle money the way we do. That being said, living life together means adjustments may be needed. Talk about daily spending habits. Discuss paying down debts and saving money. Set ground rules on what’s okay, what needs to be talked about beforehand, and what is absolutely a deal breaker.
Be open to change. You might find that how you’ve been living your financial life so far could use some tweaking. Perhaps your partner was on the straight and narrow while you lived well above your means. That’s okay. Everyone makes money mistakes. It’s never too late to make improvements. Now is the time to adjust and move forward together.
Hold each other accountable (without nagging). There is a fine line between constructively suggesting alternative ways to manage personal finances and being overbearing. Understand it takes years for people to develop their spending habits. It will likely take years to change those habits now that they are ingrained in day-to-day life. Be patient, check in on each other’s progress often, and hold off on making degrading comments that cause unnecessary strain. Your relationship will thank you for it.
Set goals for the future together. One of the best things about any partnership is planning for exciting life events to come. Rather than unproductively dwelling on money troubles you may be having now, shift the conversation to the exciting goals you’re working toward. Goal setting gives you something to look forward to while keeping you both accountable in the present moment.
Keep the dialog going. As the years go by, things will change. Your lifestyle may shift, careers may grow, emergencies may crop up. You might start a family or lose loved ones. Your relationship will continue to evolve because of it all. It’s tremendously important to keep the financial discussions going over time. Sit down with your partner regularly and talk about money. Make it a non-judgmental routine check in. When life gets crazy, which it probably will, know that you’ll work together to prioritize and refocus.
Unsure how to get financial talks with your loved one back on track? Give us a call! We’re happy to be the independent voice in the room and offer guidance along the way.