Last week we talked about making financial decisions as a couple -how to make sure that both partners are actively involved in financial decisions and, more importantly, aware of family financial standing. Today I’ll continue this conversation and talk about the tool that couples can use to be on the same page, financially.
For many couples, the biggest obstacle to financial success is inability to discuss money matters with a partner. Money is often the most uncomfortable and sensitive subject between partners. Even when they have the best intentions, the “money talks” often evolve into emotional battles or become taboo all together.
In my first marriage, “money talks” were uncomfortable and eventually became a taboo. So, when I remarried, I made sure that we openly talk about ANY money matters and are able to have heart-to-heart money conversations and…money dates.
Interestingly enough, after a few months of the “money dates” strategy, instead of feeling uncomfortable talking about money openly, we’ve realized that it brings us closer together, that we can create something great together, and can achieve our financial goals faster.
Money dates became something we both look forward to instead of avoiding.
Here are FOUR guidelines for getting successful money dates:
1. Start off by talking about goals, not bills.
Ask your partner when he/she wants to retire and what s/he wants to do after the retirement. Ask what his/her dreams are, where s/he would like to be in five years, or ten years, etc. The point is to think positively about money by asking where it can get you.
Focus on your goals. You’re having this talk to achieve some sort of goals right? Maybe you think that credit card bills are getting too high, or you want to talk about life after your kids leave the nest, or where you’d like to live in a few years.
Whatever you may want to talk about, let your partner know what the goal of the money date is, but don’t start with something like “we need to talk” or “you need to change your behavior.” This will be a non-starter!
Instead, be very specific about what you want to accomplish: “I would like to get these credit cards paid off” or “We’re about to finish paying off the house and I’d like to talk about our next move.”
2. Look at financial statements with an attitude of explorer not a judge.
Look at your personal financial statements together and let your partner mark off anything s/he finds questionable. Model openness. Then ask to look together at your partner’s personal financial statements. Be the change you want to see.
If your partner admits to overspending, acknowledge him/her for being aware of the overspending issue. Overspending is a pattern, and an addictive one. Ask your partner what s/he thinks of the spending. Is it rational? Or it would be a better choice to pay off a credit card instead?
Regardless of your partner’s answers, especially if it’s not what you’d like to hear, keep your cool!
Further, it’s likely that you’re not perfect either. Yes? So, you may start off by admitting your own mistakes. Prepare for this conversation – review your own spending and figure out where you spend too much.
For example, for me, I admitted to spending too much on books, events and programs, which were noticeably draining our finances.
3. Choose goals that you both agree on.
Each of you can make a list of the goals you’d like to reach over short and long time horizons. Next, find the ones that you both like and agree to work towards them, together, as a team.
For example, we both wanted to live in two countries, so we started planning on buying and renovating a house in the South of France first.
The next goal was to build a house in Florida….
Of course it took a lot of planning and strategic investing, as well as agreeing to sell some assets in order to redirect the money towards our joint goals.
So, for each of your common goals, spend some time figuring out how you can get there. Do you need to cut down on some expenses? Each of you may need to make some sort of adjustments to reach the goal. And if you’re initiating this effort, make sure you start with yourself.
4. Leverage your Feminine Energy when talk “Money”.
Acknowledge what your partner does well. Thank him/her for being mindful on those occasions….
Look your partner right in the eyes, maybe hold his hand. No matter how big your partner’s mistakes are, be your most compassionate and loving self.
For example, when my husband got the courage to express his concerns and doubts about our financial goals, I listened attentively, held his hand, looked in his eyes, and told him that we’re in this “thing” together, that I have his back. It was a simple gesture, but it reminded him of the love that we share.
Also, if you have teenage children living with you, you may want to consider inviting them to your money date. After all, it’s a conversation about the family financial well-being and they are part of it! Besides, you can model to your children how to do it right!
You can agree to have the money dates weekly, monthly or quarterly. The best part is that you can plan something pleasant or romantic afterwards. And it doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive – could be a family dinner, or a picnic in a park.
After our first money date, we spent a romantic evening together and enjoyed a deeper bond and a new level of connection.
The Bottom Line:
Money Dates work. They help discuss important family financial matters and build a deeper bond and a new level of connection with your partner.
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To your Health, Wealth, and Freedom!