Money matters are very crucial in a marriage. For the same reason couples should always be on the same page in order to avoid any financial snags that might arise in the future. Here are a few nuggets of wisdom on how to handle money in a relationship.
- Develop A Financial Management System That Works For Both Of You
In order to put your financial plan into the action, you’ll need to figure out how much you’re able to pay in your monthly [water, electricity etc.] bills, debts; how much to deposit into savings, what left for various household needs (like gas and groceries and eating out), and so forth.
Whereas someone always assumes all responsibility for the whole financial burden, it’s always better if you are both involved in finding what might work best for you as a couple. As one person goes to the bank or holds the ATM/Debit/Credit cards, the other might simply keep records and update the budget; checking regularly to make sure you’re in balance, for instance.
- Talk About Your Financial Goals As A Couple
Even if it seems obvious and common-sense, it can also be very uncomfortable talking about money. As a result, many important things go unsaid only to ambush the couple in the near future.
Financial goals and values should always be brought forth and be examined. For whereas one person might want to be frugal in order to save for future goals, the other might like to spend now.
It does not have to be difficult though. Just tell your partner that you would like to sit down and have a talk about the future – what your goals are, and how you can work together, as a team, to achieve them. Of course the shortlist of needs and wants will be long… think about it; you want a house, children’s welfare, education, a healthy emergency fund, a car, clothes, gadgets, home appliances etc.
However, you’ll now start to prioritize, and see if you can come up with things in common. If you want a different thing, it’s important that you talk about why, and consider the other person’s desires. If that’s what makes the other person happy, you should want to make them happy – that’s the basis of a good relationship.
But relationships aren’t one-sided, either. So you should be able to be happy too. The point is that both sides should be considered, and you should look for a win-win solution or compromise so that you can both be happy. It might take a few meetings to get the actual written goals, with timeframe for each, but that’s where you want to be to eventually be happy.
- Desist From Being Emotional As You Discuss Finances
From your first meeting about the financial goals to your subsequent discussions, it’s important that the two of you stay calm; don’t hurt or be angry over any of the issues, and try to look at these issues objectively.
Often financial issues are tied up in all kinds of emotional issues, stemming from childhood, per se, or from issues of insecurity to feeling like your way is better or might even be hurt if your way of spending is criticized in any way. These emotional issues are tangled together with financial issues, and it’s important that you untangle them and just deal with the financial goals and habits.
First, don’t use emotional, accusatory, or inflammatory language. Don’t blame the other person or even be negatively critical. Simply talk about your financial goals, developing a plan for dealing with finances, and so forth.
Also try not to feel like you’re under attack if the other person talks about your goals or habits – let it be an open discussion, and if you feel under attack, stop and take a breath and remember that this isn’t a discussion about you personally but how the two of you are going to meet your goals. Again, think of this as a team effort, not as you -vs.-me effort.
- Come Up With A Plan To Meet Your Goals
Once you are able to come up with your financial goals, you need a plan how to get you there. This will take into account your joint income, your debt, your savings, how much you can put towards debt and/ or saving each month, whether you want to cut back on certain things in order to meet your savings goals, how long you want to give yourself to meet financial goals, and so on.
Start by having a definite time-frame for each goal, and then figure out how much you need to save [or pay towards debt] each month to get to your goals.
Create a spending plan if you haven’t done that yet, for each month, and see if you can adjust it to meet that monthly goal. You might need to cut back on some things or earn extra income, or both. Or you might discover that your goals aren’t realistic and you need to cut back on them, re-prioritize, or push them back a bit in order meet them.
This plan to meet your goals is how you will align your daily and monthly spending with your long-term goals. It is also a great way to resolve minor short-term disputes – you should definitely buy fewer shoes, and I should buy fewer gadgets, so we can build our house in three years and travel to start a small canteen.
- Have Regular Financial Meetings
Just because you have common financial goals and a plan and a system doesn’t mean that everything is fine. If one person takes responsibility for the finances, for example, and the other person does not care, then there will likely be problems down the road.
Several couples have suffered this. One partner took care of the finances and the other was simply ignorant until it was revealed that they were way behind on payments and would soon lose everything to the bank.
That isn’t a good time in their relationship. To prevent problems like this, have a weekly meeting where you sit down and talk about the finances. You can review your accounts, your spending plan, what is coming up in the next few weeks that you’ll need to budget for any problem.
- Stay Positive And Be Straightforward
Remember you are a team. You have the same goals and you want each other to be happy. Team members can help each other out and can encourage each other; otherwise they can rip the team apart by being negative, by blaming, by working against common goals.
If you can always stay positive, you’ll succeed as a team. Be encouraging, stay focused on solutions not blames, and make sure love is the foundation of everything you do in your relationship.