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Money can't buy love… and not talking about money can definitely bankrupt a relationship! If you and your sweetie are going at it every day (and not in a fun way), then we need to talk. Especially since Valentine's Day is just around the corner!
One of the most troublesome aspects of being in a relationship can be dealing with the way a partner uses money:
- Sure, he's just fine living in a house that looks like it's time-warped from the '70s, but you want to have a countertop that doesn't look like a baby puked all over it.
- She wants to get a new car every 3 years, but you think blue Betty still has some kick in her gears.
Or, and here's a great one….
- He just leaves all the money stuff up to you to handle, never seeming to care a bit about managing the finances until he wants a new set of golf clubs that aren't in the budget.
Ugh, so frustrating!!
Money habits are learned and developed from the time we know what money even is (which is around the age of 8) and we take cues from our parents, our friend's parents and all of the advertising we're exposed to (oh those marketers, grabbing at our wee lil' brains before we can even develop a supertastic mind shield).
Over time, our attitudes toward money simply become a part of who we are and then our emotions get all involved and before we know it, we're spending money we don't have on stuff we don't need to impress people we don't know. That, or we become Scrooges who never spend a dime because we just know deep down in our shrunken heart of hearts that money is finite and will disappear at any moment. Okay, maybe it's not that dramatic, but you get the point… right?
And then we decide to devote our time, love and attention to another person who…. gasp(!) has differing views on how to use our money.
And of course we think their way is the wrong way and why can't they just get on our money train?
So just who is the saver, and who is the spender in this relationship of yours?
What is your approach to money, and how does that jive with your partners'? Have you experienced financial infidelity? Do you not want to co-mingle the jingle because you feel like you just can't trust your other half?
Learning how to work together (yes, WERK IT!) to resolve those money issues and enjoy paying the bills… or taking a vacay in Italy… or just going to the grocery store is an important temperature gauge for intimacy.
But how in the heck do you get your spouse on board with working together to handle the finances when they just want to do what they want to do? Well, the first thing you DON'T do is tell them what you're going to do and then expect them to just hop on board with your brilliant idea to sell their car so you can get out of debt. Please, please, don't do that. They'll just run for the hills and call you names I don't even want to think about.
Instead, sell them on the why.
Do you feel scared when you think about the mound of debt that just seems to keep piling up, with no end in sight? Is the pressure to keep up with Slick Sally from the tennis club just too much to handle? Would you love to get away from the kids for even a weekend because you're run ragged, yet there never seems to be enough money to even pray for time away?
Of course you're scared, sick to your stomach, or just plain fed up, but this is not the time to berate your partner for not keeping up their end of the bargain.
What you need to do is sit down, without any distractions and start a conversation about why you handle money the way you do.
Get to know each other's first money memories, fears and dreams around money, and what you believe money is for. Here is a link to a Money Persona quiz that each of you can take to uncover your respective approaches to money, and here are a few additional prompts to start the conversation:
"If you inherited $10,000, what would you want to do with it?"
"What's your picture of retirement?"
"Are you happy with our current financial situation?"
Then talk about your family's future - what do you each want that future to look like?
Work together to create the dream of financial freedom - what would the outcome be if you didn't have debt, were on the same page with your spending and saving goals, and lived within your means?
Then, and only then, when your love-bug has bought into the dream, can you ask them to help you brainstorm ideas for how to get there so that they buy into the action steps it will take to achieve success together.
Here are a few tips for getting started:
Start with a small, but fun goal you can work toward to iron out the kinks as you take the steps to achieve it. It might be as small as saving for a date night.
Listen to motivating podcasts like Dave Ramsey, Her Money (Jean Chatzky) and The Retirement Answer Man who breaks down complex money terms into easy to understand concepts.
Read about money. Get a subscription to a magazine about money to get a better understanding of how money works, as well as tips on saving and investing, and read some books that educate you further on managing money together (a great one is Smart Couples Finish Rich by David Bach).
If one of you is not an avid reader or has a long commute, then download audiobooks from the library (for free!), Audible or Google Play. Smart Couples Finish Rich is available as an audiobook!
Get some coaching! An effective coach will help you keep it together as you initially struggle through getting started on this journey.
As you work toward repairing and strengthening your financial situation, you'll find your relationship will grow deeper and stronger as well.
When you align your money habits, create a unified approach to money management, and work together to create the kind of financial life you both want to have, there is nothing that can stop you! Oh, and the ancillary rewards probably won't be too bad either ;)
If you enjoyed this post, you may be interested in taking my Money Persona quiz to learn how you and your sweetie each approach money. But even if you're not currently in a relationship, you can still learn how your brain works for or against you in achieving your money goals. And of course, money coaching can work wonders for how you enter into future relationships (wink, wink!)
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