When it comes to relationships, communication is key. You talk to each other about your feelings, your plans for the future, how many kids you want to have, and even what you’ll have for dinner. These things are a no-brainer. However, there’s one topic that, no matter how important it may be, many couples steer clear of like the plague: their finances.
Money issues can sometimes sit there like the elephant in the room. You obviously need to address them, but they can feel difficult and uncomfortable, so it’s easy to stick your head in the sand and pretend that everything’s going A-OK. That’s right, folks. Move it along, nothing to see here.
If you do recognize that a conversation needs to happen, you may be wondering what types of things you should be talking about. Aside from obvious concerns, such as paying down debt and providing for your children, according to LearnVest.com, couples currently have three areas of stress when it comes to money: saving for retirement, enjoying everyday life, and living comfortably.
It’s interesting how these concerns break down for people at various stages of their lives. Those who are older, it comes as no surprise, tend to feel more in control of their finances, and they reported feeling significantly more in line with their partners. Younger generations, however, trend more toward handling their finances separately.
No matter where you land on this spectrum, when financial disagreements can make or break your relationship, it’s imperative that the two of you have “the talk.” When that day comes (hopefully sooner than later), here are a few steps to help you both get the conversation started.
Make a Date and Get Real
You’ve heard of date night, right? Well, the two of you need to schedule a date with your checkbook. Light a candle or two, put on the smooth jazz and grab your calculators. It’s time to sit down, stare longingly into each other’s eyes, and talk frankly about your cash: What are you buying, what are you saving, and what does your current financial situation look like? This is the time to put it all out there. Set up a Quizzle account to learn where your credit stands so you can truly understand your starting point and establish a plan.
Plan Your (Financial) Future Together
Okay, so you’re in love and you want to share everything, so why not share your assumptions and expectations regarding your financial future together? You may be surprised at how your goals compare, but it’ll help you start from the same point of understanding and map out a plan that you can both agree upon. Do you want to establish a joint bank account? Would you rather go separate, or maybe have one joint account with separate accounts? This is the time to work through these details.
Keep at It: Budget and Track Your Spending
Once you have these larger details worked out, you can snuggle up on the couch and establish a budget to help you achieve your goals. Make sure you each have access to the budget and check in with each other weekly to ensure you’re staying focused and sticking with the plan. There are plenty of financial apps and software out there that are tremendous at helping you both stay aware of where your money is going every day.
Celebrate Small Victories
This is very important: Set aside room in your budget for you and your other half to pat yourselves on the back for a job well done. Incentives aren’t only helpful in keeping you both on track, they’re downright fun! It’s hard work to keep yourself disciplined and focused on your goals, so why not plan for small, inexpensive victory parties. You’ll thank yourself for it later.
When everyone is keeping an open line of communication, your family’s finances will not only be manageable, but will thrive. Goals that once seemed unattainable will slowly come into focus, and financial stress will become a thing of the past (well, at least everything will feel more within your control).
Have any tips on managing your finances as a couple? Share with us all below!