The honeymoon period is over, and it’s time to have some serious conversations about money with your spouse. But what’s the best way to go about it? The difficult reality is that finances can break relationships. In fact, studies show that finances are the second-most common reason marriages end, right after infidelity. However, the silver lining is that couples who take the time to discuss money and establish solid financial plans have a higher net worth than those who don’t.
Here are seven ways to discuss finances with your spouse.
Have a Positive Mindset.
Entering the conversation knowing it’s for the betterment of your relationship can help diffuse some of the tension that comes with talking about finances. Most couples dread money conversations because they view it as an attack on their ideals and spending habits. If you communicate that you both stand to gain, then your husband will be less likely to take a defensive stance. Keep your voice calm and try and smile as often as you can. If you can stay calm, especially during the initial stages of financial talks, this should help to relax your spouse.
Choose an Appropriate Time.
Timing can significantly affect the success of your discussion. When it comes to hard conversations, when you have them is as important as what you say. Choose a day when you are both relaxed and in high spirits. Don’t have money conversations when your spouse has had a long, stressful day. You don’t want the discussion to seem like an ambush.
When asking your partner to have that first financial conversation, perhaps start by saying something non-personal, such as “I’ve been reading this great book on the best way to save money.” And hopefully, this can get the conversation started on neutral ground.
Consider Your Spouse’s Financial Background.
Our upbringing, life experiences, and environment shape our ideologies about money. Consider your spouse’s background before you have the discussion. If he grew up in a humble family, he might be overly rigid about spending. If his parents were wealthy, then he’s more likely to spend money without tracking it. When you take time to understand what forms these habits, then you get a balanced view and better insight on how to tailor your approach.
Go Into the Discussion Prepared.
If you are initiating the conversation, then you need to prepare. Gather your personal and combined credit cards, car loans, mortgage statements, investments, business statements, and any other relevant financials. Have short-term and long-term goals that you can present to your spouse. Remember that these are suggestions; you need your partner’s input, as well. Once you’ve talked, make sure you come up with a concrete and comprehensive plan that will shape your financial future. If you own a business together, have separate plans for business and personal accounts.
Get a Game Plan Together.
Once you and your husband have broken the ice about financial discussions, it is time to become proactive and get that concrete and comprehensive plan together. This is the time to sit down and set up a spreadsheet of your financials and address each issue. Do this step well after the emotions have calmed down.
Discuss ways to achieve those goals that you have talked about. Look at all aspects of your spending and be firm on ways to cut out excessive spending. The main thing in committing to goals for your family’s financial health is for both of you to be on the same page. Make sure that you plan a financial talk once a month to ensure that you are staying on track. Set up a pre-planned time for this monthly meeting, so that way you both come in prepared, especially emotionally.
Consult With an Expert.
In some instances, couples become so emotionally invested in the discussion that they lose objectivity. Again, if you realize that you have very divergent views from your partner, then you might want to bring in an expert or financial counselor. A third party will be objective and can give you a fresh and informed perspective on your finances.
Have a Romantic Evening or Weekend After the Discussion.
Talking about finances can stir up some powerful emotions. There may initially be finger-pointing and accusations thrown around, and feelings may be hurt. It is vitally important to re-secure the bonds of love that you have together after such intense discussions. When all of the paperwork, bank statements, and spreadsheets have been put away, along with your list of goals and positive affirmations, plan an evening together where it is just the two of you. If you can, plan a simple weekend away.
Make sure that you can afford this romantic time together, budget accordingly. Keep the financial talk away during this time. Re-affirm your love and bond with each other, so that when the time comes again to go over financials, you will remember that there is more to your relationship than money, bills, and responsibilities.
These tips will come in handy when having money conversations with your spouse. Above all, remember that it will take time before you get on the same page. Stay committed to the process, and once you realize the results, it will become much easier to hold these discussions on a regular basis.