Even with the best communicators and the most loving relationship, talking about the budget, bills, spending, and big purchases more often than not can quickly transform a simple statement taken the wrong way into a Titanic-sized disaster. It’s no wonder why money is the number one underlying root of most arguments between couples. Even in relationships where bank and financial accounts are held separate, it’s very important for a couple to recognize the mutual benefit in having a budget and shared financial goals. This is true whether you live hand to mouth, pay check to pay check, or with excess.
Here are five ways to help you really communicate to your partner about money.
- Start talking. It could be that you have never openly talked about money with your partner. On the other hand, you could be like the couples described above. The simple truth is, you have to start somewhere. Don’t put it off. The longer you wait, the harder it will be. Review an article like this one together. Express how important money-management is, and the fact that this will also help build your relationship, making a deeper connection of trust.
- Be honest. This is not easy when it comes to money. It’s easy to feel embarrassed or ashamed when discussing bills, debt, and spending, however, this is where it is especially important to be fully honest and open with each other. Lay it all out there. The good, the bad, and the ugly. As best as possible, remove emotion, and let objectivity and reason rule the day. Ask your partner for their opinions and goals. Set up a real budget that accurately reflects all the income and expenses in the business or household.
- Regular check-ins. Agree to regularly check-in to assess how well you are both doing. Ideally, this could be every week at first, and then every other week once you have the hang of it. Again, this is the time for objectivity and reason, not emotion. Realistically, some goals or milestones will not have been met… but do not give up. Work with your partner to adjust the budget and goals as needed, and then express confidence that you both can do it.
- Joint decisions. Discuss and agree to a specific dollar amount threshold that requires you both to make decisions. For example, if $50 is the threshold, than you would get your partner’s approval before spending more than that. Absolutely avoid making unilateral budget, spending, and borrowing decisions as that is a quick way to tear down the trust you have built up with your partner.
- Goals. Make joint budget and spending goals to reach milestones together. You need both short term and long term goals. They should be attainable, but also, you should push yourself to be able to reach them. Once you reach a goal, set a new one