Communication is Key

I’m not a big talker. Ironic for someone who has written a weekly blog for over a year now. For me, a lot of the time, I think it is easier to stay quiet and let problems or miscommunications resolve themselves. Honestly, I don’t recommend it. It’s not the healthiest way to get through life. I think we should all improve our communication skills and be more open with those around us. Today, I want to specifically discuss why communicating with your partner about finances is important and how to do it better.

Some people don’t want to talk about finances at all, even with someone that they share finances with. That won’t work. Finances are the number one cause of relationship stress in couples. Why? I believe a lot of it comes down to not being on the same plan when it comes to spending money. 

Everyone comes into a relationship with their own histories. That’s obvious. We often understand and talk about family histories or relationship histories. Why don’t we talk about financial histories? So much of what we believe about saving and spending money can be tied back to what we learned or saw growing up, and that will carry over into relationships. If you aren’t able to discuss your views and expectations for saving and spending money with your partner, they may end up behaving in ways that drive you crazy. So how do we fix it?

For starters, talking about money doesn’t mean just getting into the specifics about where the savings account is located and what the password is. It should always start with something broader. What are your goals in life? Do you want to have kids? What kind of house do you want? When do you want to retire? All of these things, and so many more, are directly tied to your finances. By starting out with discussing your life goals with your partner, you’ll be able to frame and give motivation for all of your financial conversations moving forward.

Once you build that framework for your financial conversations, you can start getting into the details. Start with a budget. Sit down together and decide what you want to prioritize in your spending and saving. Now’s the time to be open about your relationship with money. For me, that meant talking about how spending money can bring me stress, because I was always taught to save as much as I could. Buying plane tickets to go home for the holidays became a painful experience for me. By talking about that issue, we were able to build our travel budget in a way that reduced my stress for big purchases later on. Do you like to shop when you experience stress? Is giving gifts for all of your friends important to you? Make sure to talk about all of these things while building the budget with your partner. The last thing you want is surprises when it comes to money habits.

Make sure not to stop communicating after the first couple conversations. Maybe one of you (me) likes to look at the budget more than the other. Take time each month to briefly discuss how the budget looks and if there are any issues with spending. Nip things in the bud before they become a bigger issue. And bring up new goals as they come along. I have it in my head that one day I’ll buy a Tesla. It may or may not happen. Either way, I’ve told Allyson that it’s in my head so she won’t be surprised if it is something I bring up seriously in the future. When we bought our house, our finances and priorities changed. Allyson wanted to have a huge garden and that is not something I would have wanted on my own. She talked to me about it and shared that it is one of her priorities. Now, I don’t get surprised or upset when she places a $250 seed order for the new spring planting season (yup, this just happened).

The whole point I am trying to make is that talking about finances is healthy. It should be approached with an open mind from all parties, where any concerns or struggles can be brought forward without judgement. It should be exciting. Your money is a pathway to your future goals. Getting there will be a lot easier if both of you are walking down the same path together.

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