You don’t have to be a couple that argues about money to be out-of-step financially.
It is no secret that money is a major contributor to marital arguments and disagreements. Who hasn’t experienced the ire of a spouse when money issues bubble over in an unproductive way?
Good communication tends to help in many areas of life, especially finances. But even good communication may not mean you’re in sync financially.
Here is how to truly get on the same page with your significant other about finances, and it actually starts with you.
Know Your Money Mindset
In order to get “on the same page,” you have to know which page you’re on first. Your money mindset is how you think and feel about money, and what ultimately determines the financial actions you take.
Are you a saver or spender? Do you feel positively or negatively about money and your financial future? How likely are you to take risks with your money? These may seem like simple enough questions, but you may find that your answers are not nearly as clear as you thought they would be.
Understanding how you feel about money and how it influences your financial decisions is the first step toward mutual understanding with your better half.
Listen to Their Concerns and Desires about Money
Before you jump in and overtake a money conversation, be open to listening first. Since money can be a taboo topic that not everyone has a great comfort in discussing, help to create a safe environment for your significant other to share their thoughts, concerns, fears, and goals about money openly and honestly.
Now, you don’t need to be a psychologist or try to “fix” someone’s fears relating to money. It is probably better not to respond to specifics. Just be willing to listen with the sheer purpose of understanding where the other person is coming from. Chances are you will learn something about your spouse! Then it’s your turn, and they can listen to your concerns and desires about money.
Set Money Goals
In the previous step, individual short and long-term goals with money likely emerged. She wants pay off her student loan. He wants get a different vehicle in the next year or so. Whatever the case may be, big or small – it’s time to combine your individual goals and make them shared goals you can both work toward, and support, together.
Now is a good time to make “we” statements.
- “In the next 12 months, we want to…” (fully fund our emergency reserves; save toward a family vacation; both increase our contributions to retirement)
- “One of our biggest money goals is to…” (buy our first home; pay off our credit card debt; start saving for retirement)
- “We want to retire when we are…” (know at what age you both hope to retire)
Review the Finances Together
Even if just one of you is primarily responsible for managing the household finances, reviewing the finances together will help get (and keep) you on the same page. Some couples review finances monthly, while others may get together quarterly. Do what works best for you.
During household financial reviews, it’s a good idea to take a look at where money has been spent, the progress you’re making toward your short and long-term goals, and any new money goals and concerns you want to discuss with your partner.
The focused-time you spend on the finances together allows you the opportunity to recognize and celebrate financial wins. It also permits each of you to regroup if one or both of you needs to.
Getting on the same page financially requires that you’re both making an intentional effort to focus on the finances and work together. Staying positive, listening to each other, and sharing in the financial journey all go a long way in helping you get on the same page about your finances.