We all have had varying degrees of financial experiences that impact how we feel and talk about money. And often, that can lead to conflicting opinions. It’s no surprise that money can be a huge source of stress in any relationship, especially when it comes to how we spend it and save it, which is why it’s essential to get on the same page with your partner when it comes to your finances.
Now, I know what some of you may be thinking…“Please tell that to my partner!” Ha!
I will share some fundamental principles that Laura and I have implemented throughout our financial journey to get on the same page and build the future we want together.
In This Article
A challenge many couples face is that there may exist a large discrepancy in the amount of financial knowledge between the two of you. This difference in knowledge may lead to conflict because what may be very clear to one person may not be to the other. So, it’s important to practice patience. When I began learning about all things money, I was eager to talk about it with Laura, so I asked her to read one of the many books I had finished that I thought would be a good introduction. Immediately, there was an unlock for her, and I found that she started initiating financial conversations. We now had a shared interest, and talking about money became a regular (and dare I say fun) topic in our home.
Identify your SHARED goals
Regardless of your financial prowess, I believe the most critical step to getting on the same page as your partner begins with identifying your SHARED goals. What is it that you both desire in the short and long-term? Having an open dialogue and being an active listener is key. Don’t just ‘hear’ what is said; really listen, without interrupting. This is your opportunity to truly understand each other’s perspectives and talk openly about your financial fears and hopes. And I think you will find that you have more in common than you realize. Your opinions, behaviors, and knowledge about money may be very different, but your goals and dreams will likely be very compatible. Here is a starter list of things to consider:
Build an emergency fund
Pay cash for a new car
Save for a down-payment on a house
Payoff your 30-year mortgage in 15 years
Max out your 401k/403b
Achieve early financial independence
If you are not carrying debt, I believe long-term goals are the best place to start. They are far less contentious of a topic than short-term goals when it comes to day-to-day spending and budgeting. They require consistent progress over time, and often, you can set it and forget it.
Create a budget and automate it
Yes…words must be followed by actions! You’ve identified your goals, but now you have to create a budget to help get you there. It’s time to get your spending and savings under control based on your priorities. A priorities budget is built on making sure we send money to the biggest priorities FIRST. The more optional and less important areas of spending then fall in line. Let’s say one of your shared goals is paying off your 30-year mortgage in 15 years because you do not want to carry a mortgage into retirement. You should automate additional principal payments every month (not just when you have the extra cash). Your budget should reflect this priority, which means your spending in other areas will need to be adjusted so you can achieve this goal. Every time you are tempted to spend on something outside your priorities, ask yourself this question:
Do our current decisions with money reflect those most important long-term goals?
Check your progress and celebrate your wins
Whether it’s weekly, monthly, or quarterly, it’s important to check back in and make sure that you are still on track with your spending and savings goals and re-adjust as needed. Once you have achieved a goal, take the time to celebrate. Since time is the main factor in long-term goals, consider celebrating milestones throughout your journey to help keep the momentum and excitement going.
We’d love to hear from you; what has worked for you and your partner? Let us know in the comments below.