Talking about finances can make us feel vulnerable. And talking about it with a partner can be difficult and can run the risk of sparking a skirmish. Having uncomfortable conversations within a marriage is part of the deal, but going into it with the right expectations can turn an uncomfortable situation into a productive one. Try utilizing these tips to help make conversations about money run more smoothly. Even if you and your partner have never struggled with communication around your family's financial health, these steps can be followed to help drive an annual or bi-annual discussion around your shared financial future.
Set a date
The definition of a date has likely run the gamut from your early years of dating or marriage -- from long quiet dinners, to bike rides, to visiting a drive-in movie (which, thanks to COVID is back en vouge) -- but putting a date on the calendar to discuss finances is important. It reduces the potential of talking about money in the middle of a stressful situation when tensions are high. While this date will be a serious one, it doesn’t necessarily mean a somber one. You’ll be talking about the future life you want to plan for and create and that can be exhilarating -- but it also means all of your attention needs to be focused on the topic at hand. So, make a ‘money’ date, eliminate the distractions caused by phones, work, and children, and focus on your financial future.
2. Be honest
You won’t be able to plan for the future you want if you can’t be honest with yourself and your partner about your financial past and the future you’re trying to build. Start by listing out your retirement dreams, decide if it’s best if one of you has more control over your money than the other person and why, clarify short-term goals with one another. There’s no right or wrong here, but if you’re not transparent about wanting that kitchen remodel or those twilight year travel aspirations you cannot plan for them. Be prepared for some misalignment, but also know that the more you attempt to align your financial goals with your combined value system the more you’ll be able to avoid resentment down the road. You’re both going to have to give and take and that’s okay -- the important thing is to be honest with each other about the end game you’re both working towards and making decisions together to get there.
3. Focus on each other’s strengths
One of you has the ability to dream up the best vacations every year. The other one knows exactly when tickets need to be purchased and reservations need to be made. These are two different skill sets -- maybe one of you is a big picture thinker and the other is more detail-oriented. One of you is a spender, the other a saver. One a riskier investor, the other prefers to go slow to grow. Whatever the case may be, when you try to understand each other’s strengths during your conversations around money you’ll find that each perspective offers a valuable insight. Saving too much could mean you can’t enjoy what you have now, while spending it all now might mean a pushed-back retirement age. Above all, remember that each of you offer valid context in planning for your combined financial future.
Whether you’re navigating your financial situation together for the first time, or are facing new challenges, having a third-party can help. Schedule a call if you’d like to talk about building a financial plan together.
Of course, being in the financial industry we have to let you know that this communication is not constituted as financial advice. Investments are not insured by the FDIC or any other government entity. Investment and insurance products are subject to investment risk, including possible loss