Talking to Your Partner about Money
No matter how different your usual money management styles may be, having the ability to compromise and work as a team will eventually lead to financial comfort and stability for any couple. Many couples are clueless as to how to resolve their financial setbacks, which can sometimes evolve into other big problems that both parties can no longer handle. There are ways, however, to generate money now, settle financial differences and reach financial goals – together as a couple.
Mismatched Money Styles
It’s one of the oldest recipes for romantic comedies out there – spendthrift girl falls in love with penny-pinching boy and the two spend the rest of the movie bickering over their conflicting money management styles. In real life, though, this situation isn’t nearly as funny. A mismatch in financial personalities can lead to serious conflict – even divorce – if the parties aren’t willing to work with each other on their shared financial future.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to eternal marital strife if you find yourself in this situation. With a little practice, it is possible to overcome these differences and create a healthier, happier future – at least as far as your money’s concerned. Here’s how to get started:
Lesson #1 – Practice Good Communication Skills
Unfortunately, money is one of those things that no one ever talks about, so it can be difficult to begin an open and honest dialogue with your partner about your financial situation. However, you’ve got to start somewhere, so focus on speaking in “I” phrases (for example, “I feel” rather than “You make me feel”) and listening to everything your partner shares with an open mind. Be patient with one another and respect that it might take some time to work through months – or even years – of differences.
Lesson #2 – Discuss Your Financial Goals
Instead of focusing on your differences, concentrate on the things that bring you together as a couple – your shared financial goals. For example, if you have shared credit card debt that needs to be paid off, focus your energy on eliminating the debt, instead of on what each person is or isn’t doing right. If you’re saving for the down payment on a new home, discuss the steps that each of you can take to ensure that you reach your goals together. By teaming up to strive for your common goals, you place yourselves on the same side of the argument – instead of fighting one another’s natural spending habits.
Lesson #3 – Set a Budget Together
Once you have your financial goals in mind, it’s time to lay out a concrete plan for reaching them together. The best budgets require both parties to make sacrifices and compromises, while still leaving some room for error. A plan that requires one partner to change completely to match the other – for example, a plan where the free-wheeling party is required to cut all extraneous expenditures – will only lead to resentment in the long run.
After you’ve put together your joint budget, support each other as you make progress towards your goals. And, although it can be difficult, try not to chastise each other for small mistakes – whether from the spender who falls out of line and makes an extra purchase or the saver who diverts funds away from the shared goals. Keep your final goals in mind and you’ll find that it’s easy to work together as a team – no matter how different your usual money management styles may be.