Raise your hand if you’re not always on the same page financially with your partner. Most couples don’t like talking money with each other. It’s personal. Sometimes you feel like you’re being interrogated about your purchases you made during the month. It doesn’t have to be this way. When you both decide you’re comfortable to start openly discussing your spending, saving and budgeting habits, you will avoid the biggest threat to relationships – money management.
Here are some tips to help you avoid the monthly “Why did you buy that? Do you really need a latte every single day? Why are we getting Amazon packages daily?” questions.
Discuss Your Financial Weaknesses
Are you carrying a lot of credit card debt that your spouse doesn’t know about? Are you hiding purchases from your spouse to avoid a fight about money? Is your credit score less than desirable? You have to be upfront and honest with your partner about your financials before they become a not so great discovery later in your relationship.
If you’re on the other side of the fence and have great credit, low debt, and budget like it’s your business, good for you. When you find out your partner is just the opposite, try not to judge. Find common ground and set expectations. Together you can both come up with a plan to address the weaknesses. A lot of money management comes from the way we were brought up. We watch and learn and if our parents didn’t practice healthy money management, perhaps those same habits are learned and passed down.
Celebrate When You Hit a Common Financial Goal
When I say celebrate, I don’t mean take a vacation to Bali, but go out for date. Make a toast. Truly acknowledge accomplishment. When you first buy a house and sign a 30-year mortgage, you may feel like you are so far away from getting that loan paid off, but maybe celebrate when you have met the quarter of the way mark. Or, if you are saving for a new house, celebrate when you hit a significant amount of your savings goal. These small acknowledgements help you to remain focused and encourage you to keep up the good work.
Remember, It Doesn’t Always Have to be About Spending, but More About Saving
Instead of having a monthly conversation (or interrogation) about spending, switch it up and talk about how much you saved that month. I’m not talking about how much you saved because you bought an amazing dress on sale, but real savings. How much did you put way in your emergency fund?
When you discuss your savings progress, it makes for a much better conversation and it’s actually exciting to see your bank account grow every month. It feels like a win when you put more in your savings account than your partner. It’s not a competition, but saving more feels better than spending more.
You Don’t Have to Practice the “Halfsies” Principle
Do you or do you know of couples that split everything in half when it comes to bills and expenses? That doesn’t always work. I use the “fairness” principle. My husband happens to earn a higher income than I do, so he takes care of a larger portion of the bills. We have an agreement that I take care of buying groceries, household items, and smaller expenses and he handles the larger bills that we have. It works for us. You could also go by percentage. If you make 30% more than your partner, then perhaps you could be responsible for paying 30% more of the bills.
This agreement can help you have fewer disagreements in the future. It’s not fun when you are stressed about paying bills while your spouse feels no financial tension and holds you accountable for paying your fair share.
Know Where You Stand With Your Finances
Checking in monthly on where you are with expenses, savings, and budget is important. You don’t want to live blindly when dealing with your checkbook. Perhaps one of you can take the lead and manage the finances with a program that helps you budget, manage, and plan for the future. My husband is the money guy and uses Quicken, which is a desktop application. Believe me, he can tell me exactly how much money I spent on pedicures in 2016. I, myself, love the Mint app because it’s cloud-based and can be accessed on my phone anytime.
Set Financial Goals and Discuss Them Together
The importance of setting common goals is crucial. This is a broad tip, but when both of you have a goal to reach together, you will make it happen. Is your goal to buy a loft in the city? What’s your game plan on saving for a down payment? Is your goal to have a family vacation next year? What do you need to do to make that happen? Do you need to put your gym membership on hold? You know, the one you think you will use sometime in the future. What financial adjustments do you both need to make in order to make your dreams a reality?
Learn to Be Satisfied With What You Have at the Moment
Many people want it all and they want it now. It’s not a bad thing if you can financially manage to have it all. But, for most people, we need to learn to be happy with what we have. Have you heard the term “fake it until you make it”? Do not fake it when it comes to your finances. You might want a bigger house, a fancy car, a fancy indoor spin bike (oh wait, that’s me). These wants may become yours in the future with some goal setting and budgeting. But remember, you don’t need to chase after what everyone else has or “keep up with the Joneses”. Be you, be happy, and keep your checkbook in line. Your relationship will thank you for it.
Photo credit to: ChristianCrush.com