Ah, the money talk. You'll inevitably have to talk to your partner about money. But, I can assure you that that conversation doesn't have to be painful. Instead, it can empower you to work together to reach your individual and shared financial goals.
Yet, one of the most common reasons for breakups and divorces is hands-down money problems. Because people have different upbringings, experiences, and priorities, there's a wide range of views about how money should or shouldn't be used. For example, one person might view money as a means to freedom, while someone else might view it as a means of security, and another person might be intimidated by it altogether.
Here’s how you can approach “the money talk”:
Our perspective about money is generally shaped by our upbringing and how our parents handled their finances. If your parents struggled with debt, how would that shape your feelings around money?
On the contrary, if you grew up in a home where money was never an issue, and you could get the things you always wanted, how would that change your attitude towards money
These experiences shape the way we think and handle our personal finances. Understanding that everyone has different experiences and perspectives with money can improve your empathy and patience in having the money talk.
Do you want to start your own business? Do you want to retire early? Do you want to spend more money on the gym and less on going out to dinner? Does your partner know these things?
Aligning on your short- and long-term goals helps ensure that surprises don't arise around your different money preferences. These preferences may be on your emergency and retirement funds, what kind of house to buy, or how much you might want to allocate to your children's college savings account.
You need to sit down, talk, and strategise about what you want to achieve together. Just make sure you do it early and openly because you'll need a solid financial plan to achieve your goals.
What steps can couples take to have a happy relationship while also being open about their financial and life goals? Here's where an open, mutual communication channel can help.
Whether you're in a new relationship, about to get married or have been in a relationship for years, it's never too early to have the money conversation with a serious partner. For one thing, the earlier you start, the more comfortable you'll get talking about money and the fewer surprises you'll face later on.
One person might be comfortable enough with just 3 months of expenses saved up for an emergency fund, but someone else may feel more comfortable with 12 months of expenses saved up for an emergency.
Everyone has different personal needs and wants, and it's essential to understand these preferences. To empower each other (and keep money arguments to a minimum), have regular conversations, and know that you'll usually have to make compromises.
Even if finance seems boring or you believe your partner can better manage your shared finances, you should still be involved. It's your financial future just as much as theirs.
And not to evoke distrust in your partner, but remember there are plenty of horror stories about people never speaking about money with their spouse - only to find out years later that they were massively in debt or had no savings to show for. I'm only saying, be present with your money.
My wife and I touch base once a month about our finances. At this time, I update her on our financial picture by going quickly over our Excel file. That way, she can ask questions about how our net worth is progressing and how we're working on paying off our mortgage. And in general, she can feel secure about how our financial goals are developing.
Having this money chat is an easy 30-minute exercise that I encourage everyone to adopt into their own relationship; it'll certainly eliminate major surprises down the road. And it feels great working together as a team.
We've all heard friends and family say things such as: "I'm not good with numbers," "My husband takes care of the finances," and "Talking about finances always leads to arguments."
The reality is that money doesn't have to be a hindrance. Remember, managing money with your partner is a means to just about every one of your life goals. So, talking about money shouldn't be scary. It's something that affects every single person in the world. And, when we talk about money with those we love, we can reach our goals sooner.