Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching. February is known as a month of love! One way to jumpstart your holiday is to have healthy conversations with your spouse or significant other around money and finances. Easily said, but harder to do! This article can help you navigate this subject and provide some actionable items to practice.
Money can be a fragile subject. Because of that, starting the conversation around finances with a spouse or significant other can be difficult. Personal finance is one of the most sensitive and (usually) secret areas in our lives. Many times, we have different expectations around money than the other partner. Though these differences exist, we can do a few things to make the conversation around money more comfortable, more productive, and helpful in finding common ground.
We all grew up in different homes and with different expectations and experiences surrounding finances. Families discuss (or do not discuss) money differently. Unless you grow up in a family who is very open about their finances, it is unlikely for money to be a dinner table conversation. It is often evident whose family talked about personal finance and who did not. Because most families do not talk about money, and because formal education about personal finance in primary and secondary school is virtually nonexistent, most of us are learning about it for the first time as we become adults. To take it a step further, many are trying to figure this out after they have graduated college and started receiving student loan bills in the mail.
Money is such a sensitive topic, so intimate, but so ingrained in our daily lives. It can be challenging to have a healthy relationship with a spouse or significant other if each person’s expectations are drastically different. Because most of us have different backgrounds regarding money, there is likely going to need to be some commitment from each side to find common ground. With differences in opinion around money issues, and because it is usually not a subject where much time is spent, money is one of the most significant stressors.
Although the discussion of finance with a significant other or spouse can be a very difficult one, there are ways in which starting the conversation can be non-threatening and, maybe, even enjoyable. The first and arguably most important point to note; the conversation needs to happen. The sooner it happens in the relationship, the quicker discussions can be had, and decisions can be made to be on the same page. Each partner needs to listen and learn the expectations of the other. This will provide insight into the perspective the other person is bringing. Discuss your thoughts and feelings about money, what you think you are doing well, what things you feel you need to improve on, and what you are not sure about. Have your spouse or partner share the same with you.
Next, after you have both listened, discuss the things you want to work out together. It can be creating a budget that you both are aware of, agree to, and make decisions on. It can be talking about short term goals like saving for this year’s vacation or longer-term goals like saving for a house, retiring, or traveling. As a starting point, make an inventory of your assets and liabilities, and then make a monthly budget to account for where your income is going.
Starting the conversation around personal finance can be difficult, but it is also vital. The earlier you can convince yourself to have this conversation, the quicker you will make decisions together. This will positively impact your relationship with each other, your relationship with your family, your relationship with your friends, your productivity in and out of the workplace, and your overall sense of well-being. The benefits of having these crucial conversations and committing to move forward with making decisions together will have an incredible impact on your day-to-day relationships with family, friends, and co-workers, and most importantly, your relationship with your significant other.
Ryan Berkeley is a partner and a wealth manager at S.E.E.D. Planning Group, LLC. Ryan also serves as the firm’s Chief Financial Officer and as a member of the firm’s Financial Planning team, where he provides coordinated and strategic financial planning and investment fiduciary services to families and small businesses. Ryan presents the benefits of financial planning to professional, employee, and small business groups throughout the region.
S.E.E.D. Planning Group LLC (S.E.E.D.)is a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) with the Securities Exchange Commission. S.E.E.D.’s team provides investment fiduciary and financial planning services to clients. Our fees are disclosed, easy to understand, and not predicated on product sales.