Finances can be a touchy subject—especially within your relationship or marriage. Statistics show that nearly 75% of Americans feel stress over their finances. Add the financial stress that many feel with other stress factors in life, such as work and kids… it can be overwhelming. So instead of letting the stress of finances weigh your relationship down, there are some steps that you can take to talk about money with your partner and build a healthy relationship.
Avoiding misunderstandings in a relationship is key in any area—and this definitely rings true for finances. So the first thing you need to do is get on the same page when it comes to money. Perhaps you want to save money and your husband is used to spending more freely… this may work out for a while, but if you aren’t both living with the same expectation, there is room for resentment and division to grow within your relationship. Letting your partner know what is important to you and you knowing what is expected by them will help you develop spending and saving habits that you can both accept.
Work together on a household budget – “together” being the key word here. If it’s not a joint effort, one partner may feel ignored, or the other may feel like the money police. If you are both equal partners in creating your budget, there’s no room for resentment there. Once you see how much money you have coming in each month and how it is currently being spent, you can decide together if any changes need to be made.
Set aside time to talk
There is a wrong time and a right time to talk about money. Calling your spouse while they’re at work? Wrong time. Date night? Definitely the wrong time. Driving your kids to soccer practice? Still probably not great. While it definitely doesn’t sound like much fun to set aside time to talk about money, you will be glad that you did. Having time set aside to focus solely on this topic is good for a few reasons:
- You both know that you will be talking about money—so neither of you has to awkwardly bring up the subject because you are already expecting to talk about it.
- Taking the distractions out helps you focus and have a more productive discussion.
- It gives you time to think things through. Many times we don’t bring a subject up until we are upset about something. So if you are blazing mad about the new shoes that your partner just bought, that is probably not a good time to confront them about their spending habits.
List your goals
Talking about money with your partner is about way more than just how much money to spend on groceries each month. You also need to discuss your long-term financial goals, because they directly impact how you spend your money in the short term. Whether your priority is a new home, your retirement or your children’s education, you will need to work as a team to determine how you will reach those goals.
Meet with an expert
One of the best things that you can do for your finances, and possibly relationship, is seek the advice of a financial advisor. Once you and your spouse have your goals laid out, your financial planner can help get you on the path to reaching those goals. An outside perspective can also be nice because the advice is coming from an independent third party – they can offer an opinion without emotional bias, and you can hear it in the same way.
Finances are a factor that you will need to face throughout your entire life and your entire relationship. These discussions with your spouse will need to take place several times. As your situation in life changes, you will need to re-evaluate and even change some of your financial goals, so it is important to remember that these conversations need to take place in a loving and productive manner. Mastering these discussions early can set you up for a long, happy life together, with a solid financial bolster.
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