Most couples avoid talking about finances. Especially when those conversations routinely end up in awkwardness, arguments, shame, or blame.
That being said, studies show that having regular financial conversations is key to healthier, happier relationships.
So how can you make sure you avoid common pitfalls when it comes to your relationship and money? To start, look for these common warning signs that you may not be aligned financially - and how you can start getting on the same page (and put an end to financial arguments before they even start).
Problem 1: If the very idea of them hitting the shops makes your palms sweat
Maybe your partner comes home with a purchase you just don't understand, or the budget gets blown away as soon as you set it. Dealing with different spending and saving styles in a relationship can be incredibly frustrating for both of you.
Our solution is to try to build a budget where you each have a “just because" spending allowance. Each of you may get a little extra from your combined budget to spend on anything he/she wants - no eye rolls allowed.
It keeps things loose, your other half gets to enjoy some guilt-free purchases and you can avoid the panic when they shoot out the front door with the credit card.
Problem 2: You take bill-paying responsibility because they can't be trusted
This one usually rears its head when couples first move in together, especially if one of you is a little disorganised. A little forgetfulness might be okay but it's not so funny when the late notices start coming through the letterbox.
Not trusting your other half to help you manage household finances not only puts all the weight on you, but resentment can start to creep in when the budget goes over or your time is stretched thin.
Our solution is to try putting your bills on direct debit so you don't resent the time you spend doing the admin. Then, have a think about what the crux of the issue actually is.
Are your values around money very different? Is it because you like to have control over things? Or, is it because your partner could do with being a bit more financially minded?
Problem 3: You suffer from post-purchase regret
Maybe you've hidden your shiny new purchases from your partner because you want to avoid talking about money altogether as it's all too awkward and complicated. You're right. Money-talk is almost always cringe-worthy. But you're not a bad person and you're definitely not alone.
Our solution is to try a spending tracker to see where your money really goes and if your purchases align with your values. It might even reveal that you're not so bad after all! And, if you are - sometimes seeing the facts in black and white is the kick-starter you need to change your ways.
Problem 4: You avoid "money talk" at all costs
There's no avoiding it. It's always awkward to talk about money, whether it's how much you both earn or what you have tucked away in your savings account. Any imbalances tend to stir some sort of emotional reaction that everyone could do without. The path of least resistance is a philosophy many couples take when it comes to money, which unfortunately can lead to avoidance instead of talking about real issues. Just because you never talk about it, doesn't mean you're aligned.
Our solution is to consider a "money date" - next time finances comes up in conversation, try and use it as an excuse to voice what's on your mind. Talk about values, short-term and long-term goals, status of budget, and any other financial tasks. To keep it light-hearted, grab a bottle of wine or a takeout. You might find you were worrying over nothing, but you'll both be more relaxed knowing the other knows where you stand.
Financially Happy Ever After
It starts with you and your own financial habits. Sounds counter-intuitive but bear with me. None of us are perfect and your financial happiness is grounded in accepting that we all have "things" to work on. Being too hard on yourself, unreasonably frugal or obsessive about saving isn't healthy either.
A lot of financial disagreements happen because it can get incredibly hard to see eye-to-eye when we don't practice empathy first. Hopefully, these tips can help guide you and your partner into the more tactical steps of co-managing your finances.
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