By Hilary Hendershott, MBA, CFP®
“Money is the leading cause of stress in relationships” — CNBC.com
“Money matters cause tension for 88 percent of Millennial couples” —Journal of Accountancy
“How to avoid family friction over finances” — TODAY.com
And then there are the articles that tell you how to have “the talk” with your partner about your finances. Seriously, when was the last time you got excited when you heard (or had to say) the words, “We need to talk?” Don’t get me wrong; money is important. The road to financial hardship is often paved with inattention. But that doesn’t mean it has to be all doom and gloom, either.
We’ve spent the last month onProfit Boss Radioexploring couples and money, and there are a lot of invaluable lessons here. I’ve spoken to several fabulous female experts whose mission it is to teach couples how to share about what matters most with joy and intimacy. And yes, that includes money!
Here’s what I consider some of the biggest takeaways from this series on Profit Boss Radio.
- Empower Yourself
Gone are the days when women didn’t need to take responsibility for their financial futures. Today, women control more spending power than ever before.According to Forbes magazine, “Women drive 70 to 80 percent of all consumer purchasing, through a combination of their buying power and influence.”
However, the skills it takes to run a household budget aren’t the same as those necessary to build and maintain wealth. Take the time to understand how your behaviors affect both your monthly spending and your long-term goals, and you’ll be in a much better place when it comes to talking about saving for the future.
- Be Creative
Money is entwined with almost every aspect of our lives. And that holds true for free spirits as well as for hardheaded realists.
For instance, Arielle Ford is definitely someone I’d say is a “free spirit.” Arielle is the author ofThe Soulmate Secret: How to Manifest the Love of Your Life with the Law of Attraction. As she says, the first blush of love is a “socially acceptable form of insanity.” But after 16 to 18 months, life sets in and you need to develop skills. One of the big takeaways from my conversation with her centered on learning to creatively address differences in how you and your soulmate approach life, love, and money issues. Doing that proactively and as a team can make all the difference in how you approach your finances.
- Find Out How You’re Wired
One insight I got in my time with the Better Relationship Coach Susie Miller was the importance of getting a sense of perspective on yourself. Susie works with a variety of people, including entrepreneurs and high-level corporate types. She takes each of them through a series of guided exercises to help them understand their unique motivations and triggers. That in turn helps them be more open to understanding where their spouse or partner is coming from, and, as she puts it, “takes the fight off the table.”
- Commit to Open and Honest Communication
While it’s important to understand money basics, it’s also critical to remember you and your partner are both individuals, with different perspectives on what’s important. As Elle Martinez, host of the Couple Money podcast, says, “You and your partner are both growing, but you’re still an individual.” So make it a point to ask, “How can we make this work with and for each other?” Focus on a couple of goals and then map out how you’re going to get there together.
- Define Your Goals
In the final podcast episode, I offered listeners the most important lessons I’ve learned over the years advising high-net-worth couples at various stages along their journey together.
One of the biggest is the importance of taking stock of where you are now, and having well considered and clearly defined goals for the future. You need a wealth plan. Don’t be surprised if your current reality doesn’t line up with how you see your life a few decades down the road. It’s my experience that’s almost never the case — at least at first.
Something I try to drive home with all my clients is that money isn’t life, it’s just business. That doesn’t mean you’ll never get emotional about money, but it does mean you can learn to separate your sense of self-worth from your finances. Money, like business, is a game we all play. So why not learn to play it well? Just remember, you’re not competing against anyone, least of all against your partner. Instead, think of it as something you’re improving at every day.
- Implement a Strategy to Reach Your Goals
If you really want to improve at anything, whether it’s becoming better at golfing or at planning your finances, you need a strategy to help you get there. One of the most useful strategies I suggest to couples I advise is to have planned “money dates,” where you and your partner talk about budgeting, trade-offs, and plans for the future. My husband and I have a money date every other Sunday, and they have become a real opportunity for us to better understand each other and grow as a couple.
While it can be a challenge, there’s no reason talking money and finances can’t be a source of closeness for you and your partner. To tune in and hear this valuable series of interviews, check out episodes 13 through 17 onProfit Boss Radiotoday. What tricks have you come up with to grow closer as a couple and work as a team when it comes to planning for your financial future? Post your tips in the comments below.
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