Money and Couples – Putting the S.P.A.R.K. Back in Your Relationship
It’s almost Valentine’s Day and that makes it time for romance. I am no relationship expert (and I am sure my wife would concur) so I can’t tell you the fastest way to romance, but I can tell you one of the fastest ways to ruin romance: start talking about money. Why does it seem like money and relationships don’t go together well? Why is it such a buzzkill? Does it bring us back to reality? Is the topic just uncomfortable because it is a societal taboo? Whatever the reason, it seems to be the topic to avoid this Valentine’s Day… and every other day for that matter.
Money and Relationships
So maybe February 14th is not the day to discuss money, but what about today? Or tomorrow? We are still in the beginning of the year and many people have made a New Year’s Resolution to do something positive with their financial lives. Was one of your Resolutions to talk more about money with your partner? If you are married, this is critical. You have brought your assets and income together and you are sharing your lives. You need to make sure you are both on the same page. If he wants to save for a new truck, but she wants to save to send the kids to private school, you are both happy while the balance in your accounts are growing, but then a fight is looming when it comes time to actually spend the money.
What if you are not married? Well, if you plan to spend a considerable amount of time with this person (getting married, moving in together, or even taking an expensive vacation together) you need to talk about money. Just get the conversation out of the way. Maybe you will find out that you are both thinking exactly alike (he was planning to sell his sports car to help pay for the wedding after all!). But if you are not on the same page, now is the time to have a real discussion and make those relationship compromises we all hear about.
Your Relationship Needs a Little SPARK
How do you start talking about money? Put the S.P.A.R.K. back in your relationship.
- Set aside a time to talk. Don’t wait until you are upset about a credit card bill or a declined debit charge due to a low checking account balance.
- Plan your goals together. It is important that you are on the same page about your goals. That way you both understand why you are saving or sacrificing or at least what the end result should look like.
- Agree to compromise. You are not trying to win; you are trying to do what is best for the two of you.
- Remove the emotions. Try to discuss the topic on the basis of agreed upon goals and realistic dollar amounts.
- Keep the conversation on track. Now is not the time to bring up other issues in the relationship. Keep your money discussion to the money issues.
The real key is communication. It is all about talking about your money. You can never assume that your partner is thinking the same thing you are… about money or anything else.
For more information about Money and Relationships, check out The Graduate’s Guide to Life and Money. The Money Professors included an entire chapter on Money and Relationships and a separate chapter on Weddings. Their textbook, Personal Finance: Easy. Relevant. Fun. also features a chapter on relationships.