“We need to talk about our finances.” Do these words strike fear in your heart? Would you rather do, literally, ANYTHING else? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Most couples cite money as one of the hardest things to talk about. Sometimes couples avoid it because they don’t want to fight. Other couples find it hard to acknowledge the reality of what their money really looks like – good or bad. But talking about your finances is important, and we’re going to help you have those tough conversations with your spouse.
You make lots of decisions about money every single day, and that means there are opportunities for you and your spouse to disagree about money every single day! Just this morning, Bethany and I were faced with a difference of opinion at the gas station. She’s a fancy mid-grade fuel girl, while I’m more of a basic-grade guy. Why spend top dollar on gas when you’re driving a Chevy, right? And while disagreeing about small decisions like what type of gas to buy aren’t a huge deal, you’ll face a lot of financial decisions that are, so it’s important to be on the same page. There is a lot of great advice out there for talking to your spouse about money, and we’re going to give you more! Here are three things to consider when it’s time to talk about your finances.
1. Your Approach
Most of the time, the spouse who is the planner will be the one initiating the discussions about money. That’s okay – as long as it’s done in a way that doesn’t make your spouse want to run away and hide! Lots of times, people get into the nitty-gritty numbers too fast and that can be scary or intimidating. Or maybe you think your spouse is making poor money decisions, so you lead with blame and accusations. This is definitely not conducive to a productive conversation about money!
Instead, you should always begin discussions about money with the mindset that you’re a team. You’re in this together, and you’ll make these important decisions together. Start with a level playing field. No one is perfect, so there’s no need to play the blame game. Embrace the idea that we’re working together as a team to make money decisions that benefit both of us.
2. Your Timing
Timing truly is everything. Bethany’s wonderful, active mind starts whirring with ideas about money around 9 or 9:30 at night – right as my mind is shutting down and preparing for sleep! That’s probably not the best time to make any major decisions about money. I’m a morning person, so I’m happy to talk finances any time after 4:30 am, but I’m turning my decision-making brain off at 8 pm! It’s important to take your spouse’s internal clock into consideration before scheduling any discussions about money.
In fact, having a regularly scheduled time to sit down and discuss your finances – maybe once a month – can be incredibly beneficial. Knowing exactly when you’re going to have this conversation keeps you from discussing money constantly, which cuts down on tension and anxiety. Plus, it gives you time to plan your topics, so your conversations are even more productive.
Bethany and I have our “money huddle” once a month, and that has been great for us. We know we have a set time where we can hash out different opinions and set goals for our family, and we make sure we always end on a high note by doing something fun together afterwards. Reward yourself for having the hard conversations by doing something fun like making a romantic dinner together or snuggling up on the couch for movie night.
3. Your Topics
We know that talking about money can be scary, so be proactive and start on a positive note! Make your first conversations all about goals and needs. Talk about the fun stuff you want to do for your family. Each spouse should get a chance to share what they would like to incorporate into the budget.
Speaking of budgets, or “cash flow worksheets” as I prefer to call them, you have to create your spending plan together as a team. If one person is creating the spending plan, the other might not be on board, but if you’re both invested in the plan you’ve created together, it will work!
One final bonus tip – always keep your four Money Personalities in mind when discussing your finances and creating a plan. Make sure your plan is fulfilling to both of your Money Personalities. (And if you’re not sure what your Money Personality is, you and your spouse should take this assessment right away!)
I’m a Spender/Security Seeker so it’s really important to me to have a set plan for how we’ll use our resources. As long as we have a solid plan, my Security Seeker side is happy! But Bethany’s Spender/Risk Taker Personality needs opportunities to try something new, so we make sure we add some fun experiences like going to a new show to make sure her Money Personality needs are met! Making a plan that validates both our needs and wants helps keep our financial discussions positive and productive.
Bottom line… know yourself, know your spouse, and be conscious about appreciating and working around your differences. Understanding where the other person is coming from will go a long way to getting them interested in the finances. If you don’t already know the 4 Money Personalities at play in your relationship (that’s right, we all have 2!) take our free assessment today.