Money conversations among couples are usually reactive—they are based around bills, budgets or overspending. Rarely do we have positive discussions about our values and feelings about money. These conversations can be incredibly frustrating, especially when you and your significant other have different views about the ways that your money should be saved and spent.
Talking to your partner about money may not be at the top of your to-do list, but it is important not only to your future plans but also to the strength of your relationship. If you and your spouse don’t have positive communication around money and support each other’s values, it can lead to constant bickering, busted budgets and underfunded savings accounts.
If you’re reading this article, you want to improve your communication with your partner. Don’t worry, you’re on the right page. Below are a few ways that will help you talk positively, openly and honestly about money with your partner.
To begin with, try to understand how your significant other grew up. People struggle to leave their personal upbringing behind when creating their own financial habits. We often mimic the money management systems that our parents used, which might not work when we bring another person into our lives. Understanding why they are the way that they are, in terms of finances, will help open the door for some clear conversations.
Trust is the most important factor in a relationship, even when it comes to money matters. This can be difficult since each person has individual ways of perceiving and spending money. Buying something without telling your partners may be seen as breaking their trust. Do not lie. Financial infidelity is a real problem and the root cause of many failed relationships. Prevent the confusion by communicating, and rebuild that trust within the relationship.
Don’t make it a big deal
We all value money differently. The more you talk about your values and differences with your partner, the less likely you are to resent your loved one for a financial decision you did not understand. Don’t wait to bring up finances until you’re upset about a big purchase that your partner made. Talk about money a little bit every day, as it is part of our daily lives. It is not a big deal, don’t make it one.
Talk values, not just numbers
Discuss your values around money. The number is only one part of the bigger narrative— the value of the thing that you bought in exchange for the number. Make sure your partner recognises why you spent a certain amount on a particular item. You need to take time to explain why you value it, and your partner needs to take the time to understand. If it helps, list each other’s life values and compare them to make sense of each other’s spending habits.
Make a money date
Talking about money is serious, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Together, you and your partner need to set a time for discussing financial matters. Call it a ‘money date’. It doesn’t have to be a romantic dinner where you both open up each other’s earning and spending logs. It can be as simple as an hour over coffee, where you both share your thoughts about how financially efficient you were in the past month. The focus of this date is to have an open conversation about your relationships around money.
Consider earnings, not just expenses
We often focus too much on how we spend, save, and invest money and too little on how we earn our money. The way we earn shapes our overall relationship with money in a significant way. Once a while, discuss money making ways and the role it plays in your combined budgets.
Talk through mistakes
There will be times where you or your partner may overspend on the budget. Don’t play the blame game when this happens. Talk about its reason and instead, find ways to prevent it from happening again. Arguing with your partner without understanding what went wrong, or assuming why they overspent, is a recipe for disaster.
Plan for your future. Create a realistic budget together, based on the future you both want. Write the plan using words like ‘we’ and ‘us’ instead of ‘me’ and ‘you’. If you don’t discuss your hopes for your future life, then you end up making assumptions about what the other wants. Maybe you want to settle down in a peaceful city while your partner wishes to travel places after retirement. The only way to know is by asking each other. Having open conversations about your future allows you to plan for it, rather than just letting your future happen by default.