START OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT
I know, just the thought of having a money conversation might bring on feelings of fear, guilt or anxiety. But here’s the thing, talking them through with your significant other doesn’t have to be that way.
If you just got engaged or are talking about doing so soon; get money conversations out of the way right off the bat. Start talking about if you have debt, how much you make, things you like to spend money on, etc. all prior to your wedding day. Getting through money conversations as soon as possible is going to help you better align your finances and values, as well as get ahead of any conflicts.
Remember, we all have a different relationship with money. You’ve committed to spending the rest of your life with someone, make sure you have a solid understanding of each other’s.
DECIDE HOW TO SPLIT (OR NOT SPLIT) YOUR FINANCES
Many couples opt to go all in and pool their money together once married. Some keep things separate. Some also keep most of their money separate but transfer a set dollar amount into a joint checking account to cover shared bills or, divvy up who is responsible for what bills.
The bottom line is, there are many ways to go about combining (or not combining finances). The point being, you have to find what works best for you and your partner. Don’t go all in and comingle funds until you’re comfortable with it.
I’ve seen it work well where all finances are combined but each person gets a set dollar amount of “fun” money. This could be taken as cash or transferred into individual checking accounts. This strategy is helpful for couples who have dramatically different spending habits. This way each individual can do with the funds as they please without judgement.
MAKE SURE YOUR FINANCIAL VALUES ALIGN
This is big. You know that you’re with your partner because your core values align, otherwise you likely wouldn’t have committed the rest of your life to each other. So, shouldn’t your financial values also align so you can mitigate disputes relating to your household finances?
Unfortunately, money is the number one reason couples fight. This is likely because there is a lack of communication around money and understanding of your partners relationship with money. Remember, your money values and beliefs shape your financial future. So if you’re going to share finances with a spouse, these should be aligned to set you on a successful financial journey.
Talk about your financial values. Maybe it’s important to you to allocate a certain portion of your income to charity; this should be discussed with your partner. Maybe you are more conservative and prefer not just six months of an emergency fund, but 12-months. Share this with your partner and help them understand why.
SET JOINT MONEY GOALS & MONITOR THEM
Naturally, one person in the relationship is going to take on the role of CFO of your household. That doesn’t mean you both shouldn’t be part of the conversation. Many of us have individual goals – personal development, business related, money related, etc. When you’re married it’s incredibly important to set goals as a couple. Want to tackle your outstanding debt? Come up with a plan together.
Setting joint goals and monitoring them will help keep your intentions aligned as well as your spending since you’ll agree on where your money goes. And hey, now you have a great accountability partner, we’re not perfect after all!
Also, it’s extremely gratifying to accomplish goals together, as a couple.
Both be part of the conversation
Speaking of accomplishing things together – Please don’t be that person that just let’s your spouse “handle it” or don’t let your spouse be that person that lets you handle it. As I mentioned, there is naturally going to be one person that takes the lead on paying bills or tracking spending, but you both need to be part of the big things. What your overall budget looks like, what your goals are, and do your goals align with your values.
I get it. Budgeting and finances aren’t the sexiest topics. But money and how we handle it is not only important, but it’s dealt with on a daily basis. So, it’s very important to both have input. By ensuring you are both on the same page you can maintain respect and trust.
CONTINUOUSLY HAVE MONEY DATES
This shouldn’t be a one and done conversation. Budgets should be revisited at least annually. Monthly or quarterly budget dates are a great idea! Put it on the calendar as a recurring date, grab a cocktail or coffee and discuss how the last month went. This will give you the opportunity to discuss spending and whether you’re on target, monitor your financial goal progress, and adjust for any life events (hello, babies!?).
The key is to keep this up and be open.
If kids are part of your future, consider having money conversations with them as well to pass along that financial knowledge.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER ASKING YOUR PARTNER:
- What money mistakes have you made in the past?
- What do you want retirement to look like?
- How do you feel about paying for a child’s education (or more)?
- What financial goals do we want to accomplish in the next 3, 5, or 10 years?
If you feel speaking with an expert can help you both be on the same page, that’s why I’m here. I’m just a phone call away and love talking all things finance. Subscribe to get all new posts and updates delivered straight to your inbox!
Carolyn Rowland is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ passionate about empowering individuals to take control of their financial landscape. “We often tend to place our own priorities on the back burner for others, resulting in sacrifices we don’t often realize we’re making.”Carolyn believes in taking a values-based approach to financial planning. “Together we’ll define what matters most to you, what you want your life to look like, and develop a plan that fits your lifestyle.”CC
Carolyn Rowland is in the Milwaukee WI, area.