Money is probably the first thing couples argue about. We grow up in different families with different experiences and even different cultures, which greatly influences our individual money stories, money beliefs, and money personalities! As a result, differences and conflicts are going to be normal, but there is a solution to these problems. This is called the “money talk!”
Talking about money can literally save your current or future relationship from falling apart. Follow these tips and strategies for having an effective conversation before you go for a walk. (If you’ve done the walk before, do it ASAP!)
Step 1: Set a monetary date in the calendar. Find a babysitter for the kids and schedule a few hours or an evening to do so. The point is to enjoy it, so grab your favorite drink and snacks and make yourself comfortable.
A lot of good will come out of this “scary to have” conversation. It can help you achieve your financial dreams faster! Here are some ground rules for your first conversation:
1- Don’t talk about money as this can lead to an outburst of pent up frustrations, fears etc.
2- Write down your aspirations individually, what it would mean for you to achieve them and why achieving them is important to you.
3- Commit to sharing them and fully listening to each other until you are both done. Remember that money is not part of the conversation, so be as free as possible with these aspirations and remember that sharing the why behind them is super important!
4- Note the similarities between the whys of each other. This is the stage where the magic starts to happen. You may find that the two of you have a lot more in common than you thought. The difference could simply be in the examples or the words we choose to describe them.
For example, my wife and I were both determined to establish financial security to provide more flexibility and options for ourselves and, most importantly, our children to help us live our best lives. We described this very differently, but the whys behind them were in sync! There were other elements that after writing them down and describing the why behind them, we identified as being influenced by harmful money scripts that interfered with our financial relationship and the achievement of our objectives. Consider taking the Money Script Test to understand what this means to each of you and get tips on how to resolve these conflicts. here.
Step 2: Set goals based on these aspirations. List each goal and give it a timeline with how much you think you need for that goal. apply this INTELLIGENT method to help you !
For example, an aspiration may be to build financial resilience in the face of emergencies. One goal to help you get there is to create an emergency fund. The norm is 3 to 6 months of expenses. Figure out what dollar amount is right for you and give yourself a reasonable time frame (perhaps 1-2 years) for you to automatically save and get there.
Step 3: Review your current expenses. List your current expenses. Consider looking at the last 3 months of spending as a starting point, although one year is the gold standard to get the full picture.
Then, as you review your current spending, start asking yourself if the way you spend your money is helping you achieve your aspirations. For each item, ask two questions: 1) Is it necessary? 2) Is it worth delaying my progress towards my goals?
The answer could be yes and if he passes the test you will feel good. However, you will find it much easier to eliminate or reduce anything that does not pass this test. You can use this expense tracker as a resource and those advices to help you reduce or eliminate certain expenses.
Step 4: Start implementing incremental changes. As you identify ways to reduce or reduce your expenses, save more, and make other improvements, be sure to take it one step at a time. If you try to do too much at once, it can become overwhelming and set back your progress. Instead, divide your to-do list into 1-3 tasks at a time.
As you feel more comfortable, add more or if some elements require more time, do less. As you progress, you get better. Small changes add up to big impacts!
Step 5: Meet regularly to keep progressing. Keep the money talking on a recurring basis to stay on track and incorporate any changes that impact your goals. Consider scheduling monthly or quarterly meetings and blocking them out in your individual, work, and family calendars. Each time you do it will go faster, have even more impact, and refocus your efforts!
I hope you can use this guide as inspiration to be more purposeful and meaningful with your financial choices and use your shared financial base to exponentially increase your progress. This is how you can make 1+1=3 with your partner. It can improve your financial and relationship life, whether you have walked or not!