This post is the fourth in a series of guest posts that focus on getting the most from your money life when it intersects with your love life.
Having a money talk with the person you share your life and heart with can be one of the most stressful conversations we have in our relationship. That’s especially true if we don’t prepare for it in advance or haven’t organized our thoughts about how and what we want to achieve at the end of our conversation.
Because it can be so uncomfortable, a lot of us avoid talking about money all together.
Why is it important to talk about money?
Well we usually talk about the daily ways we use money, right? We might discuss the price of movie tickets or groceries or gas. For larger items, we may budget for how much we want to spend on a vacation or a new refrigerator.
Most of us are very
REACTIVE about money. Having a healthy money conversation is about getting PROACTIVE about money and taking a step back and looking at the big picture of our finances and goals.
The New York Post recently published some very scary statistics claiming that over 50% of Americans are struggling in retirement and the new average retirement age is 77.
If we don’t talk about money now, we are setting ourselves up for suffering in our last chapter of life.
Take these 4 steps before having a money conversation:
Set an intention. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish and how you want to feel at the end of the conversation. It can be something simple like “I set the intention to remain peaceful and open during this conversation.” Or “I set the intention that we arrive at a point of clarity about our immediate next steps at the end of our talk.”
Schedule a specific time for your money talk. Blindsiding is never
a good idea and usually an awful idea when it comes to anything related to money. Schedule a time, make it a date, give a heads up.
Have a focus. Are you putting aside money for a vacation? Planning for retirement? Saving for a new house? Don’t try to tackle every single money issue at once. Pick one thing. You are much likely to experience progress if you limit your scope to one thing and then move on to something else during your next money talk. (and yes, you will have more of them now that they aren’t so scary!)
Remember you are on the same side. This can be easy to forget if you have different backgrounds and feelings about money, so remember – you both want to create a life you love together. That’s the ultimate goal.
If you haven’t had a Money Talk in a while, I suggest starting with a simple inventory or “When in Doubt, Count.”
There are two pieces to money talks – our emotional connection to money – how we feel about it, and the practical way we use money – how we handle money every day.
It’s often easier to get started on simple things like what drawer are the 401k papers in. Here are 3 quick ones…
- Do you know your current net worth? (value of things you own minus money you owe)
- Do you know your fixed monthly overhead? (how much in total you spend on things like food, mortgage, car payment – expenses that aren’t going to change from month to month)
- Do you know where all your important paperwork is?
When we move onto emotional questions I suggest we declare a safe zone, kind of like the military when a truce is being called.
Just take a minute and say, “Anything you answer is okay here. We are just brainstorming. We are not making any concrete plans right now, just talking.”
I love comparing that to a demilitarized zone because everyone just gets it. No guns allowed here, no troops, no bombs, just talking.
Here are 3 of the more emotional questions about money that we should be talking about:
- Do you know how your partner FEELS about your regular expenses?
- Do you know how your partner’s parents handled their finances and what effect that has had on how your partner manages their own money now? (See how that could get sticky?)
- Do you know how your partner feels about saving? Is it a priority for them? Why or why not?
If it’s not a regular habit to have a talk like this, I suggest scheduling a money talk whenever you tune up your car. Makes it easy to remember and easy to schedule and takes the emotion out of when and how to plan for a talk, your bank account deserves at least as much maintenance as your motor right?
Action step – Schedule your money talk.
Power Question – Answer this one in the comments – How do you want to FEEL at the end of your money talk?
Maggie Reyes is a Life Coach, Writer + the Founder of ModernMarried.com. Her romantic-yet-practical approach to wedded bliss has been featured on Redbook.com, Daybreak USA, Cristina XMRadio and The Happy Wives Club — the #1 marriage site on the web. When she’s not writing, working or creating pins for her fabulous Facebook Community, you can find her cuddling with her hubby, reading a romance novel or embracing how the words “over-achiever” and “TV Junkie” can still go in the same sentence, to describe the same person. Learn how to love like a newlywed no matter how long you have been married at www.ModernMarried.com.
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