Getting the finances right is a big contributing factor to just about any successful relationship. The first step is to talk about it. But when it comes to money, talking can lead to arguments and accusations. So much so, that many couples give up on the subject and one person assumes control. However this approach is not a win for anybody.
So how do you talk to your partner about money?
1. Accept your differences
All of us have money habits that can help or hinder our road to financial freedom. It is very rare for a couple to have the very same attitudes and habits with money. If they did, that would be a disaster unto itself.
Step 1 is to understand WHY we do what we do when it comes to money. Step 2 is to accept that as you each have different personalities, you also have different Money Personalities.
Armed with these fresh insights about each other, you can work together to plan and manage your money. The insights you gain from your Money Personality Profiles will help you make your differences work for you rather than against you.
2. Be prepared to compromise
Now that you know how and why you react to money differently, you can work out a way forward that works for both of you. Never agree to disagree or reach a compromise where no one is happy. A sustainable solution needs buy-in from both of you. Work at it till you get there. See Agree, Compromise or Align.
3. Set money goals together
Shared money goals are essential. Make sure your goals address the needs and wants of both of you. Because your shared goals are only sustainable if both of you feel that OUR goals are more important than MY goals. Create shared goals for Spending, Saving and Debts.
4. Schedule regular ‘money dates’
Think about your last money fight. Were you tired, pre-occupied, just got home from work or maybe watching TV? If so, these are the worst times to talk about money. Schedule a regular time when both of you are relaxed and free of distractions. Have a glass of wine if that’s something you enjoy. Many couples have date night – but never mix date night with your money date. Enjoy them both separately!
Use your money date to review where you’re at financially, identify issues and set some goals. Agree on a set of rules. Or you can try mine, Sherpa’s Rules for Talking Money with your Honey.
5. Allow for Guilt-Free Spending
This is the one secret all couples should keep from each other. I like to get my clients to set up a separate fund in their budgets for personal spending. It is their own personal secret stash to be spent as they see fit. No questions, no guilt and no recriminations.
It doesn’t have to be big – it’s up to you. For me, there is nothing less romantic than a surprise gift that was paid for from our joint account.
6. Agree All Expenses Over a Certain Threshold
Forgiveness may be easier to get than permission, but harmonious couple finances just don’t work well that way. Agree on a threshold where anything above this amount (that’s not already in the budget) must be agreed on by both parties. The limit will vary depending on how tight your budget is.
The upshot is, don’t sweat the small stuff. If you can do it within your budget without pushing anything else out - just do it.
7. Bring in a Third Party
A financial coach can really get your finances soaring. A good coach has seen it all when it comes to couples' finances. Part psychologist, part accountant - someone with the perspective of an outsider to discuss and mitigate issues. Ask your Sherpa.
With over 25 years in Financial Services from consulting to management, Vince Scully is the go-to guy for wealth management and financial advice. Before creating LifeSherpa, Vince founded the Calliva Group; a fund manager, product issuer, adviser and lender. Vince is an adviser to the Wealth Management Industry, and prior to his role as CEO at Calliva, a senior member of Macquarie Bank’s infrastructure team.