Talking about money can be difficult. While we’re taught to avoid the potentially sensitive topic in polite conversation, there’s at least one person with whom you need to be able to have frequent and honest financial conversations -- your partner or spouse.
This Valentine’s Day, take the opportunity to strengthen your relationship by understanding what drives your partner’s financial decisions. While experts say it may not always be possible to agree on everything, knowing each other’s perspective can help couples avoid frustrating conversations and make better decisions together.
“We all bring our own feelings and experiences to the table and that can have a big impact on how we invest and spend money,” says Joe Duran, CEO of United Capital, a private wealth consulting firm and New York Times best-selling author of The Money Code, a new book that aims to improve financial decision making. “But by honestly getting to the root of what money means to you and to your partner, you can take steps to improve your financial life together.”
In time for Valentine’s Day, here are some ways couples can smooth over their differences:
List your financial priorities and savings goals and determine which are necessary, negotiable and realistic. Draw up a budget and create a financial decision making checklist that satisfies both of you and resolve to stick to it. A clear action plan will help avoid surprise purchases or investments made by you or your partner that could become potential sources of argument.
“I like to think of each of us as having a ‘Money Mind,’ which motivates the way we think about money,” says Duran. “Some of us are driven by fear, some by the pursuit of happiness and others by commitment. Whether you’re spending too much in the pursuit of happiness, or missing key opportunities out of fear, become actively aware of what guides you and your partner financially and the potential consequences.”
You’ll be more likely to avoid letting conversations turn into arguments if you’re speaking the same language as your partner. Each of you should have an active voice in the discussion and be participating fully in the financial planning process.
Personal biases can sometimes get in the way of sound judgment. But a financial adviser can help you objectively map out a process to achieve your financial goals. Opt for one who doesn’t just focus on investments, but who can also match your financial aspirations with your current resources.
More tips on how to discuss money with your partner can be found by visiting www.HonestConversations.com.
Don’t let miscommunication stand in the way of a healthy financial future. By taking steps to understand your partner’s perspective, you can develop a joint solution that makes everyone happy.