Updated: Oct 3, 2019
Money provides security, freedom and enjoyment in a relationship, but it is also a common cause of tension in a marriage. Everyone’s relationship with money is different. Our past experiences and our future beliefs effect how we react to money. Simply understanding our differences can go a long way in creating and keeping harmony in a new relationship. The best way to avoid the tension is to have an open honest conversation with your spouse about money before the tension starts.
Here are 5 money conversations every couple should have, especially if embarking on a new relationship.
1) Define your goals. You have goals and dreams for yourself but have you defined goals and dreams for this relationship? Where do you see yourselves in 5, 10, even 30 years? Where will you live? How will you earn a living? What will you do for fun? Will you have kids, pets? Take time and dream about your future together. This is an easy, fun conversation and a great way to start the money talk!
Be sure to write down your goals and establish time frames for each. A dream written down with a date is more likely to come true.
2) Understand each other’s relationship to money. Everyone has a unique relationship with money that started in childhood. Talk about your past money experiences. How were you raised? Who earned the money and who paid the bills in your family? Did you have excess or see financial struggles? Talk about your current relationship with money. Do you consider yourself a saver or a spender? Are you frivolous or cautious when making major purchases?
Knowing each other’s relationship to money will help you in understanding why and how your spouse will react during both money surplus and money crisis.
3) Share your balance sheet. This is probably the hardest conversation to have. There is a lot of shame, worry, and insecurities around our financial position. Most people, even if they are in a good place, still feel they should be in a better financial position. There is no holding back at this stage. You must be open and honest about your finances. What are your incomes and expenses? What assets and debts have you accumulated? What you are contributing toward retirement and savings? After it’s all on the table, evaluate where you stand as a couple. Are you in similar financial positions or not? Is it a positive or a negative?
Congratulate yourself for tearing off the band aid and starting this conversation!
4) Moving Forward. Now that you know where you stand how are you going to move forward? It’s time to make financial decisions. Who in the relationship is going to be in charge of paying the bills, saving for the goals, keeping the budget? Are you going to have joint or separate checking and savings accounts? What percentage of your paychecks will go toward savings, retirement and debt reduction? How will you fund goals? There are no right or wrong answers, it’s what works for you.
This conversation is all about setting expectations and action steps for your financial success.
5) Rinse and Repeat. Having the money conversation is not a one and done strategy. This should be an ongoing conversation. Your goals and dreams won’t just happen overnight and changes (both good and bad) are inevitable. Plan to have these conversations on a regular basis. Decide today if you want to talk weekly, monthly or yearly and put it on the calendar.
These are just a few of the many conversations to have with your spouse to set you up for financial success. The important thing to remember is to always keep the lines of communication open around money and your family finances.
If this seemed a little too daunting and you still can’t take action, schedule a time to meet with a professional to help guide the conversations. This could be a financial advisor, therapist or marriage counselor.
By: Debbie Ash, Financial Advisor and Owner of Ashbridge Financial Solutions