Re-communicating About Finances with Your Partner
For some couples, money is a sensitive topic. Like everything else in a relationship, money is a commitment. If you’ve committed to spending your life together as one, there are many good reasons why you need to be open about the “money talk” too. Ideally, you should have a unified approach when it comes to your household finances, regardless of who makes money and who runs the household.
Looking back in 2017, what were the instances when you and your partner did not come eye to eye when it came to money? Perhaps one spent too much that it damaged the household budget, or the other incurred some significant debts without informing the other partner? Are you even on the same page when it came to your financial goals?
In 2018, make it a goal to make your financial life as a couple and family even better. And I firmly believe that anything as important as finances should be communicated and discussed openly, without prejudice and with a lot of affirmation, support, and understanding. Here are the most important things you need to address and genuinely communicate about when it comes to handling your financial life.
1. Set a Date
There must be a time during the week or month when you and your partner would huddle at the kitchen table, pen, paper, and calculator in hand. Make sure when you have this date, you are both relaxed so you don’t feel easily agitated or stressed over the financial matters that you will discuss. Then, make these meetings a regular habit between you and your partner.
The date is not designed to trigger your differences in financial beliefs. Instead, you must make this time to agree (or meet halfway) on the most important matters in your financial life together. This is a great time to discuss your future investments, what you want to do with the extra money when one gets a raise or how to deal with the current financial pitfalls in your life. You are here as a team, so take the time to speak out your concerns and listen to each other.
2. Gather Your Financial Data
When you’re trying to make a case with your partner, you must back it up with financial data. For instance, if indeed you’ve been paying way too much on utility bills, you might be able to convince your partner to cut the cord and look for other cheaper alternatives. With this, you need to present your utility statements as well as provide options that could work for your household.
This is also true for other big-ticket expenses. If you deem a week-long vacation is not reasonable to the budget, you might be able to compromise for a 3-night vacation. Present your itinerary and projected expenses. When you go house-shopping, you need to mine for data comparing costs of houses in your desired neighborhood, and then compare average home prices from one area to another.
If you believe a certain decision will impact your finances in a big way, both of you must look into the matter and then decide together.
3. Budget Together
If you’ve not taken your partner to the grocery for the last several months or years, it’s probably time you shop together. As a stay-at-home mom, it’s a common set-up that you do the household shopping while the man of the family earns money. But shopping together at least once a couple of times will open your eyes to the reality of the economy: prices of commodities are increasing.
With that said, it is always better to build a budget together. This way, you’ll stay on the same page in all your household spending and so that you both know where the hard-earned money goes. Also, budgeting together allows you to achieve your financial goals as a family.
4. Set your Goals Together
Now that you’re working as a unified unit, your goals should also be the same. If you entered the marriage with a different set of goals, you need to discuss and set goals as partners. Over the years your goals will change, but you still need to openly talk about your next goals and how you plan to achieve them. When there’s a disparity of financial goals, you’ll have a different set of expectations and the gap could turn into arguments which, in turn, could drive you apart emotionally.
It can’t be stressed enough how important it is, to be honest with each other about finances. Whether you’ve had some financial mistakes in the past or are currently struggling to go through a financially difficult time, you are now one with your other half, and you must approach every issue and aspiration as a team.