Oh boy, you ready to read a little about finances? Probably not but let me tell you, this topic divides a lot of couples so it is imperative we do our best to get it right. Conversations about finances can be a real challenge. Many couples have trouble because of the baggage (i.e. past practices, attitudes and beliefs) that they bring into a relationship. More than likely you grew up differently—One person may have not had to worry about finances growing up and the other witnessed their parents financially struggling. One may be a detailed planner and a penny pincher, and the other takes a more relaxed approach. How you view finances is unique to your life experiences and your values. And these may be wildly different from your partner—but that is OK!
Just like anything else, conversations about finances, income, and planning for the future take a little bit of compromise, kindness, and patience—not to mention understanding. So let’s unpack a little bit of this baggage and take a look at some ways to have a good conversation about finances with your partner, and find common ground you can both live with—and thrive.
The concepts below will help you start a good conversation while you learn more about you and your partner in the process. This is a winning combination.
Tip 1: Each Partner Must Take a Look at Their Own Attitudes About Money & Spending
It’s never too late to have a “foundational” talk about finances. What I mean by foundational is to understand what is the overall attitude about money. To understand a current attitude, habit, or way of thinking sometimes requires you to understand more about the past. How did you/your partner handle money before you met? How did your/their parents deal with money? Were their struggles? Did you/they have to save and earn for larger purchases? You’ll probably find that you grew up differently—and that’s OK!
Uncovering these truths about yourself and your partner can help you navigate current attitudes, habits, and can help you support your partner where they need it most. Understanding more about your partner is always the first step.
Tip #2 Identify Challenges, Accept Room for Improvement
Growing up and becoming an adult doesn’t automatically equate to being amazing with finances, budgets, and spending wisely. It’s a skill we all have to learn. If you identify some areas that need some work—whether that’s spending or credit cards or a goal to save more—create a plan together to make it happen.
There are many videos you can watch online and financial gurus who can help you get on the right track. Find someone or something that you can both get on board with and watch a few videos (or read a book) together about financial freedom, planning, and / or budgeting. All it takes is a goal and you can make progress. I am reading through a book called Start Late, Finish Rich. The author is David Bach. He’s written some great books on this topic.
Tip #3 Be Encouraged and Make a Plan
If things are looking bad in your finances, don’t beat yourself up or feel overwhelmed—most everyone goes through these struggles at one point or another. And if you or your partner are struggling with something, I encourage you to meet it head on with grace and mutual respect. Grace to say, I am in this with you and we are going to give it the time it needs to be worked out; and respect to say that everyone has room to grow so I love you enough as a human being and as my spouse to do what’s necessary to work together as a supportive partner.
What are your goals? For this year? In ten years? Identify these goals together and work together to make a plan to reach them. Maybe for you it’s paying down a loan faster, adding a few extra dollars in a savings account, or cutting some spending habits. Remember, both sides may have to give a little to make it work. And this is ok as well!
Depending on your season of life, your plan could be geared toward “recovery mode” or it could be simply a more intentional way to give to others, save more for a rainy day, or put a kid through college—no matter what stage of life you are in, a plan can help you reach your goals. There are many financial planning and budgeting tools you can search for and find something that fits for your family.
What about you? Do you have any financial gurus you would recommend or have any financial tips to share with our reading community? I’d love to hear it in the comments below. And if our blog resonates with you, I encourage you to share it and spread the encouragement!
Your Virtual Life Mentor,