One of the biggest causes of relationship problems is having a difference in values, goals and habits when it comes to money. Especially communication about money issues. Often these differences in opinion can result in money fights.
Money can’t buy you love, but it sure can tear it apart.
The best way to prevent arguments about money is to learn how to talk about it with your partner and discuss how you can align your financial goals.
Let’s look at how you can do that in 6 easy steps.
6 Steps To Health Finances In Your Relationship
Step 1: Talk About Financial Goals And Values
Many couples often neglect this step, even if it seems obvious. Because talking about finances can be uncomfortable, important things remain unsaid. Each partner will have their own goals and values when it comes to money, but they do not share them. That is a mistake, as one person might want to be frugal in order to save for future goals, while the other might like to spend and enjoy things now.
The differences often come from different upbringings, and they can be emotionally charged. It doesn’t have to be difficult, though. Just tell your partner you would like to sit down and have a talk about the future — what your goals are and how you can work together, as a team, to achieve them.
In the beginning, just start spitting out the different things each of you wants — a house, kids, university education for the kids, a healthy emergency fund, nice cars, travel each year, nice clothes, gadgets and computers, etc. Then start to prioritise, and see if you can come up with things in common. If you want different things, it is important that you talk about why, and consider the other person’s desires.
The point is that both sides should be considered, and you should look for a win-win solution or compromise so that you can both be happy. It might take a few meetings to form actual written goals, with a timeframe for each, but that’s where you want to eventually get to.
Step 2: Remove Emotions From Financial Talk
In every discussion about money, it is important that the two of you stay calm, don’t get hurt or angry over any issues, and try to look at them objectively. Often financial issues are tied up in all kinds of emotional issues and it is important that you untangle them and just deal with financial goals and habits.
First, don’t use emotional, accusatory, or inflammatory language. Don’t blame the other person or even be negatively critical. Simply talk about your financial goals, a plan for getting to those goals, and a system for dealing with your finances. Also, try not to feel like you are under attack if the other person talks about your goals or habits.
Let it be an open discussion, and if you feel under attack, stop, take a breath and remember that this isn’t a discussion about you personally but about how the two of you are going to meet your goals. Again, think of this as a team effort, not as a you-vs-me effort.
Step 3: Come Up With A Plan To Meet Your Goals
Once you are able to come up with common financial goals, you need a plan for how you are going to achieve them. This will take into account your joint income, your debt, your savings, how much you can put towards debt and/or saving each month, whether you want to cut back on certain things in order to meet your savings goals, how long you want to give yourself to meet financial goals, and so forth.
Start by having a definite timeframe for each goal, and then figure out how much you need to save (or pay towards debt) each month to get to your goals. Create a spending plan (if you haven’t yet) for each month, and see if you can adjust it to meet that monthly goal. You might need to cut back on some things or earn extra income, or both. Or you might discover that your goals aren’t realistic and you need to cut back on them, reprioritise, or push them back a bit in order to meet them.
This plan is how you will align your daily and monthly spending with your long-term goals. It’s also a great way to resolve minor short-term disputes — you should definitely buy fewer shoes, and I should buy fewer video games, so we can buy that house in three years and travel to Europe in two years.
Step 4: Develop A System For Finances That Works For Both Of You
In order to put your financial plan into action, you need to figure out how you are going to pay your bills and debt, deposit into savings, and have money for day to day spending. Someone will have to take responsibility for maintaining the plan and keeping you both on track.
Step 5: Have weekly financial meetings
This is very important, and it’s a step that many couples overlook. Just because you have common financial goals, a plan and a system, doesn’t mean that everything is fine. If one person takes responsibility for the finances, and the other is out of the loop, then there will likely be problems down the road.
To prevent problems like this, have a weekly meeting where you sit down and talk about finances. You can review your accounts, your spending plan, what is coming up in the next few weeks that you need to budget for, any problem areas, what to do with your annual bonus, where you are with your goals, and so forth. Make sure you are both caught up on everything, and that you’re working well as a team.
Step 6: Stay Positive And Be Honest
Remember that you are a team. You have the same goals and you want each other to be happy. Team members can help each other out and encourage each other, or they can rip the team apart by being negative and working against common goals. If you always stay positive, you will succeed as a team.
Be encouraging, stay focused on solutions and make sure love is the foundation of everything you do.