How to Strengthen Your Finances and Your Relationship at the Same Time
We all know that good communication leads to stronger relationships, but there are some topics that are common stumbling blocks for couples. If you tend to avoid talking to your spouse or partner about money, you’re not alone. However, these conversations are important. Avoidance can often lead to arguments, overspending, underfunded savings accounts, and more. In fact, it’s difficult to maintain good financial health if you don’t talk about money together.
It’s not just your bank account that suffers when you fail to communicate about finances either. Study after study has shown that couples who fight about money have a higher incidence of divorce. So, learning to have conversations about your finances in a calm and respectful way is critical for your financial wellness and for the health of your relationship.
If you’re struggling to have money discussions as a couple – especially the valuable and effective kind – read on for five tips you can use to improve the conversation.
Tip #1: Plan a Money Date
Your most productive money conversations will be those that are scheduled in advance. This gives you both time to get into the right frame of mind and to think about topics you’d like to cover. Your “money date” doesn’t have to be a solemn occasion, however. Make it something fun, so that you’re both looking forward to it instead of viewing it as another chore on the to-do list. For instance, you could go out for coffee at your favorite café and bring along your laptop to take notes. The most important thing is to try to limit distractions like buzzing smartphones or bickering kids.
Tip #2: Frame the Conversation in a Positive Light
While it’s good to be honest and direct when communicating about financial matters, be mindful of the language you use when you propose your money date to your partner. For example, starting with something like, “We need to talk” is likely to make them immediately assume something is wrong. Instead, consider something like this:
I’m excited to put our heads together about some of our long-term goals. Can we set a date to spend some time together and chat about finances?
You can cover the same topics no matter how you start the conversation but think about how differently you might both approach things if the conversation is framed positively from the outset.
Tip #3: Don’t Immediately Unleash Criticisms
You might feel very concerned about your partner’s spending or the amount of debt they have, but it’s best not to lead with that. You should certainly discuss concerns you have, but you might find your spouse more open – and less defensive – if you start by talking about one of your own money faults. None of us is perfect, so think about something you’re struggling with and ask your spouse to help you brainstorm solutions.
Another tactic you might take is to begin the conversation by talking through your financial goals as a couple. When you can get excited about future retirement plans or that dream vacation you’re saving up for, it can be easier to tackle the difficult topics required to achieve those goals, like sticking to a budget or reducing debt.
Tip #4: Practice Active Listening and Ask Questions
It’s not uncommon for couples to move in together or get married before learning much about the other person’s financial values, habits, or goals. While you can’t turn back time, you can make a sincere effort to understand where your significant other is coming from so that you can move forward being on the same page. Make sure you are giving your spouse or partner space to talk, and listen intently while they do, instead of planning the next thing you want to say. Ask thoughtful questions about the money values they inherited from their parents or how you can best support them in an area where they struggle to make smart money decisions. Money conversations can feel awkward, but couples can actually feel closer and more connected when they happen thoughtfully.
Tip #5: Revisit the Conversation Often
Even if you have a wonderful “money date” and feel accomplished afterward, it’s all for nothing if the conversation stops there. You and your partner should discuss finances often, checking in with each other on goals and reevaluating them as needed. Once you get into the habit, you can be less formal with planning the conversations, but you should take pains to ensure they happen frequently. While it may not be fun to, say, review your budget once a month, think of it as a chance to dream together, too.
Open communication about money isn’t easy – especially when you’re just starting the conversation. However, tackling financial matters together will strengthen your relationship and help you build a firm foundation for handling future money issues together as a team.
Remember, too, that you don’t have to navigate your financial future alone. A financial advisor can be very helpful in facilitating important money conversations, especially when they take the time to understand your individual and joint goals.
At Echo Wealth Management, we strive to be each client’s trusted advisor. We get to know your values and goals, both as a couple and individually so that we can help you craft the best financial plan for your unique needs. If you and your spouse or partner are ready to gain financial confidence and follow your dreams, contact us today.