So you both vote for the same political party, agree that The Godfather is the best movie ever made, and want your children to be raised in the country. So far, so good, but what about your finances? Money may not be the most romantic of subjects. Still, if you and your partner are considering a permanent future together, finances must be discussed early in a relationship, particularly if you want to avoid problems in the future.
Of course, even those in long-term committed relationships don’t always fully understand their partner’s attitudes toward money, which often leads to misunderstandings and discourse. In fact, according to most surveys, money is one of the top topics couples argue about. Surprisingly, many couples simply do not know how to have discussions about money that don’t lead to adverse outcomes.
In this post, we’ll share several tips that can help, whether you’re a starry-eyed newlywed or years into your relationship.
Don’t Ignore Concerns
The way your partner spent money could be one of the aspects of his or her personality that first attracted you to them. But perhaps you don’t see this characteristic as particularly positive anymore. Whatever your view, if you have concerns over the way in which your partner deals with money, it’s important not to ignore them/
The time to discuss problems is when they happen (or shortly thereafter). Putting things on the back burner will ultimately lead to resentment and division, but so will accusations. Most couples don’t share the exact same views on how money should be handled, so communication is vital. Otherwise, money will become an endless source of arguments. Open and honest conversations right away can keep concerns from becoming deal-breakers.
Attitudes About Money Can Change
It’s vital to note that while your partner may at times seem a little reckless with money, he or she may have a decidedly different attitude given a change in circumstances. For example, this often happens when one partner is in school, while the other is the breadwinner carrying the bulk of the financial responsibility. If both partners are not on board with a financial plan, the one who is paying all the bills may start to resent the carefree partner taking classes and “enjoying life.”
However, when the roles are reversed, many people are surprised to learn just how much responsibility their spouses were carrying. Sometimes all it takes are some life changes for your partner to develop a new perspective. Life is fluid, and adapting with grace to the ebbs and flows of the journey can help couples empathize with one another. Knowing where each of you stands will allow you to talk things over and decide how to handle your future financial obligations.
Ask “Big” Questions
If you’re just considering a future life together, discuss the role you see money playing in it. What do you want to achieve in life, and how important is money in helping you realize your ambitions? Are you content with your current lifestyle, or do you want to live in a completely different way within, say, ten years?
These are the sorts of “big” questions you both need to consider and come to some kind of agreement on. Children will also have to be discussed, as your financial responsibilities will be greater if you decide to have kids (or already have them) than if you don’t plan on starting a family.
Enlist a Counselor
If you really can’t see eye to eye, it never hurts to involve a third party. Remember, it’s common for couples to argue about money, so there is no shame in asking for help if you find it’s causing stress on your relationship.
When choosing a counselor, you may want to find someone specializing in talking to couples about finance. These experts have seen it all before and can give you some targeted help that could even save your marriage. It’s possible that once you have agreed, you might work with them to draw up a budget that will work for you.
Of course, you should definitely talk to someone that is a neutral third-party. This is not a job for your grandma or best friend, which will only make the other partner feel attacked or ganged up on.
Compromise: The Bedrock of Relationships
If there are significant areas on which you and your partner disagree, then a compromise will have to be reached. For example, maybe they want to work part-time and get by on as little money as possible while you want to work all the hours you can get and live in the lap of luxury. Obviously, you can’t have it both ways. A compromise must be reached.
Compromises should be small enough so you can both agree on them and be able to live with the outcome instead of the issue causing ongoing friction. Again, you will only know and be able to address these issues if you both talk openly and honestly about your future expectations and the role money should play in them.
Establish Ground Rules
Nobody likes to feel another is controlling them, and one way to avoid this is to establish some rules that each partner agrees on. It could be something like you resolve to talk if either partner plans on making a purchase over a specified amount. Or perhaps you will each contribute a specific percentage of your paycheck into a savings account.
Your rules will be different, and they should be. They may be very broad or get down to specifics—such as you both agree to forgo that daily cup of Starbucks. The most crucial aspect of establishing ground rules is that it doesn’t create more issues. Each partner must agree; otherwise, it will seem like a dictatorship.
Teamwork: Focus on a Common Goal
If you and your partner have startlingly different views on money, you need something to help bring you together on the topic. One of the best ways to do that is by finding a common financial goal.
Part of creating a great life together is making important decisions as a team. So it would be best if you decided upon something that is motivating for each of you. For many, it’s their first home purchase, but your goals as a couple could be much different. Maybe you want to live in an RV and travel the country, Perhaps you want ten kids, or your goal is to live off the grid. The plans need to be clearly defined, compelling, and attainable.
Then, you should agree to conduct your finances in ways that will bring you closer to meeting your goals. If a purchase takes you further from your goal, it should be carefully discussed. This way, both partners share the same responsibility and accountability for the process. Working as a team instead of fighting will bring you closer together and conserve energy for the essential things in life.
Communication is vital in all relationships, but perhaps the most critical topic to talk about is money. When you and your partner can discuss it honestly and make sound, rational choices around finances, you can avoid letting the almighty dollar come between you. If you and your partner conclude you need extra money, consider getting paid to do surveys. This additional money can knock out debt or build a savings net for you and your partner. This team initiative to make extra money together shows a great effort to improve your money relationship.
Everyone is different, and we all have perspectives on money we hold near and dear. If you can overcome the hurdle of talking to your partner about money, you will have conquered something many couples never manage.