Money is a huge part of our lives – it dictates our lifestyle and many of our choices. It is also one of the things that couples find difficult to discuss. Even couples who see themselves as having a strong relationship, who feel that they share constantly in other areas, might find that financial management is an awkward topic.
This might be because of differing views about the role of money in your relationship, because your family never discussed money or because you fear it will lead to a fight about budgeting and priorities. Whatever the reason, in order to manage and grow your wealth and make the most of the money you have, it is important to be able to talk openly and honestly with your spouse about your financial health and wealth management / creation plans.
Need some help getting the conversation started or making it worthwhile?
Here are five tips for discussing finances with your spouse:
1. Make the time
To ensure that you don’t end up in an argument or only dealing with money issues when they have hit a crisis point, it is important to put aside an adequate amount of time to discuss your finances. Set a monthly meeting where you discuss the current state of your finances and your financial goals.
During your meeting, your spouse should have your full attention so don’t make it a part of your daily multitasking routine. Avoid distractions like making dinner or watching TV and have an end goal in mind, for example, budgeting for the year ahead, planning for your next meeting with your financial adviser, choosing what to spend your bonus on, etc.
2.Teamwork is winning work
Agree that any conversation about money will be about the two of you, working as a team, to take control of your finances and financial health. Avoid ‘you always’ statements, generalisations, and references to past spending (unless these are truly useful for the current conversation).
Rather, listen carefully and make joint decisions – decisions you will be happy living with at a later stage. Make sure that you both have time to talk and explain your positions, and that you remain calm and focused so that you can get the job done.
3. Focus on the goal
Money is a tool that we use to live our lives. So, instead of focusing only on the bills that need to be paid and the debts that need to be paid off, discussing your personal and professional goals can be an exciting and worthwhile focus for your money talk.
With your goals in mind (or better yet, written down), talk about where you see yourselves in a few years’ time and what you plan to achieve and then discuss how your finances intersect with those goals. What do you need to do today to ensure the anniversary trip you’re both interested in actually happens? How can money get you to where you want to be?
4. Ask questions
People often don’t feel like they are part of a conversation when one person dominates or talks ‘at’ rather than ‘to’ them. If you are concerned that you will overwhelm the conversation and not get to hear your spouse’s point of view or possible solution, ask questions and wait for the answer, for example, ‘What do you think we should do with our work bonuses?’
Questions can make the other person feel more relaxed and valued, rather than attacked or lectured. It’s also worth keeping an eye on tone here – sarcasm and annoyance never served anyone well in a potentially tense conversation.
5. Get some help
Finances can be complicated so it can be worth getting some professional help. While you do need to discuss your money and your wealth on a regular basis with your spouse, you should also set up regular meetings with a financial adviser. This adviser should be someone you trust with your money and who is willing to guide you on your financial journey, offering valuable support and advice.
Attend these meetings as a couple and take pre-discussed items with you, for example, spend time thinking about how you would like to live out your retirement and then share those plans with your adviser. Ask questions for clarity and take notes that you can go over, together, at a later stage.
While talking about your finances might be stressful at first, not talking about them can be much worse, leading to major relationship difficulties. Finding ways to discuss money regularly and honestly, and enjoying the financial goals that come with those conversations, will go a long way to a happier, healthier relationship.