My husband and I had a meeting at the bank earlier this week. We spent an hour with an advisor going through our finances and getting an understanding of where we are at and what we need to do to get to where we want to be. Going in I felt a bit nervous but after leaving I felt so much better because it felt like we had a plan and that we were on the same page.
The meeting got me thinking. Often one of the most conflict loaded and therefore avoided topics in a lot of relationships is money. It can cause a lot of stress, leave people anxious and cause relationships to fall apart. The challenge is that because we may view money as a possible fight starter we decide to simply not talk about it.
As with all things in life, not talking about something doesn’t make it go away. Instead it often makes things worse and can cause us to make decisions that might not be healthy from a financial or relationship perspective. For example, making a big purchase without talking to your partner about it beforehand can not only increase financial anxiety (for one or both of you) but it also excludes your partner and can leave him/her feeling insignificant and out of the loop.
So what do I suggest?
- Put your financials on the table and start talking about them. One of the best places to start is to be really open about what your personal finances look like. Do you have any debts? What do you want to save for? Do you find you are able to put money away each month or are you living paycheck to paycheck?
- As a couple getting clear on where you are now and comparing it to where you want to be will help create shared financial goals. Or, if you want someone else to be there to help support you, make an appointment with a financial advisor at a bank and get them to assist you.
- Create financial rules that fit your relationship. For example, you are free to spend money how you please but any purchase over $400 you discuss with your partner first (choose the dollar amount that works for you).
- Set up a quarterly meeting where you sit and go through your finances. This doesn’t have to be serious or depressing, you can make it as fun as you’d like by using it as an excuse to order in, put on some easy background music and opening a bottle of your favorite wine. Remember not to attack or criticize each other. Instead make the focus be about checking in on your shared goals and tackling the shared burdens.
Talking about your finances will give you both the peace of mind. Instead of your finances being a major source of conflict create open dialogue and ease your way into it. Facing your finances together as a team will alleviate stress, take away the anxiety and keep you both feeling confident and on the same page. Nobody wants their finances to be the reason for discord in your relationship. Be proactive and tackle your finances together as a team.