As someone who has “been there,” do you have any words of wisdom how couples should talk to each other when working out money issues?
– Haven’t Been There, Done That, Yet
No two couples are alike and no two individuals are the same. When it comes to couple topics, money is often high on the list because everyone differs in their thinking and beliefs where finances are concerned. People often cite money woes as a reason for a relationship disconnect, so it is important from the get-go to understand where your mate is coming from when it comes to money. The old adage about mixing family and money is often sage advice for many people, but when it comes to money matters for couples, it’s nearly impossible to avoid a mixture. Couples need to come together and stick together for present and future financial planning.
Starting the Money Talk
Ideally, you’ll want to have your financial talk before you tie the knot. By coming into the marriage with an understanding of your soon-to-be spouse’s ideas and values about money, you can actually strengthen your connection. You are about to deal with money matters as a pair, and it will be a part of your everyday life. Have a talk at length about how you each feel about different money topics including income, paying bills, making decisions, big expenses, budgeting, and saving. And, don’t forget to talk about the seemingly little, everyday, logistical things like who will do the actual bill paying.
Compromise is a big thing in relationships, especially when it comes to money. (I once heard compromise defined as “when neither person gets what they want”. Hah!) If you feel justified in your ideas, be sure to also listen to what your partner is saying. Speak in reasonable tones. If disagreements arise during money discussions, table them and come back when cooler heads prevail. Getting worked up about money matters, especially when there is a shortage of available cash, can lead to hurt feelings and heated exchanges, getting you nowhere.
It’s Okay to Be Independent
Several financial experts have noted the importance of people staying somewhat financially independent of spouses. Working out a plan to allocate a portion of cash to a household account as well as to individual accounts may help couples feel more secure and more accepting of the overall household budget. Figure out what works best for you both and work towards compromise. With me and Aaron, we each have our individual accounts and deposit a set amount into a joint account at the beginning of the month. That way we have each still have some financial autonomy.
Over time, your financial life will change. As raises are earned at work and household expenses increase (or decrease!), it is important to come back to the table on a regular basis to review the budget and the financial goals you previously set. Couple finances are a work in progress so stay active in your financial life, working as a team.
There are More Important Things Than Money
While money is certainly a necessity in society, it is not, and should not be the most important thing. As two people building a life together, love and honest communication should be the priority, not money. Remembering your priorities and what the point of all this is in the first place will do wonders.
How do you talk about money with your partner? Do you have tips on things you’ve found that do and do not work well? We’d love to hear what you’ve learned!