In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, love and partnership, I want to focus this blog on the importance of having money conversations with your spouse or partner. So, pour yourselves a glass of wine, break open the box of chocolates and let’s talk about money!
According to a new survey from UBS Global Wealth Management, 68% of women said they have been discussing finances more with their partners as a result of COVID-19. This is a great thing and here is why.
First, money tends to be high on the list of things that couples argue about. Many of the arguments are because there is a lack of transparent communication around finances. Second, for so many reasons, I love the idea that more women are becoming involved in their financial wellbeing. In fact, 90% of all women will be solely responsible for their own or their family’s finances at some point in their lives, so their knowledge and empowerment is critical.
I think we all tend to avoid conversations that can be difficult, contentious or leave us feeling vulnerable. The truth is, talking about money should be something couples do regularly and comfortably. Here are some tips for where to start and how to be successful.
According to a study from CreditCards.com, 15 million Americans are currently hiding a credit card or bank account from their significant other. Nothing good can come from shielding the truth about the state of your finances. Having a healthy conversation means admitting your fears and your failures, as well as your successes.
You need to develop a plan with your partner. Whether you work with a professional or do it yourselves, once you have a formal plan in place for building a financial future, it’s much easier to hold yourself accountable. By doing this together, you will both be committed to the success of the plan. It will also help guide your ongoing money conversations as you are able to evaluate where you are in achieving your short and long term goals.
Set a Time Limit and Start Small
The first time you have a money conversation as a couple, it’s probably wise to set a time limit, say 15 minutes, just to get your feet wet. Then, make this money talk an ongoing ritual where you find time weekly or monthly to check in and ensure you are on the same page about what money is being spent and what is being saved.
It’s OK to Agree to Disagree
I don’t agree with my spouse on everything in our lives and it’s important to remember that it’s alright to have some differences, especially over small things. The question is, are you aligned on your big financial goals? Things like living debt free, contributing to your 401(k) and saving for your children’s college education. If you are, then it’s alright to have different spending patterns and priorities about day to day things. While I love a Starbucks latte, my husband tends to be more content with the brew it yourself kind. He loves to golf in the spring and summer and I can’t swing a club. How we choose to spend money differs, but our overall goals are the same.
This is a hard one for many of us but, prior to having a money conversation, practice your listening skills. When your partner feels heard, great things can happen; but, that means you have to be an active listener. One tip: if you’re thinking about your response while your partner is talking, you are not listening!
I know that talking about money can make us all feel vulnerable and emotional at times but, it’s also a major trust builder, and trust is critical in any significant relationship. So, get started, don’t wait! Use this Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to take that first step to financially connect with your spouse.