4 Simple Ways Couples Can Get Financially AlignedBy Jesse Giordano, CFP® | February 28, 2023
There’s no secret recipe for a healthy relationship, but experts say that emotional responsiveness is a huge factor. At the end of the day, we want to feel like our partner is there for us and responding to our emotional cues. Research also suggests that financial disagreements are a common source of relationship conflict. It stands to reason that one may have something to do with the other. Getting on the same page financially—in a responsive, supportive way—could help couples overcome financial disharmony and improve their relationship.
Whether you’re just getting serious with your partner or have been married for decades, financial communication is always important. Here are a few simple ways couples can understand their differences around money and boost their financial compatibility.
1. Understand Your Partner’s Financial Perspective
It all begins with understanding where your partner is coming from. We all come to our relationships with certain beliefs around money—what I like to call money scripts. These are often shaped by childhood experiences. Perhaps one of your parents had a chronic habit of overspending, or money was always tight growing up. On the other end of the spectrum, maybe they hoarded money and were reluctant to spend. Past financial traumas could also play a role. Any of these scenarios can shape the way we relate to money.
The goal is to understand your partner’s financial perspective without judging or trying to change it. Below are some questions that can shed light on each of your money scripts. We suggest sharing your answers with each other in an openminded way.
- What did each of your parents teach you about money?
- What is your most painful money memory?
- What is your most joyful money memory?
- What are your financial fears?
- What are your financial goals?
- What aspects of your partner’s relationship with money do you admire?
2. Get on the Same Financial Page
Getting your financial values and scripts out in the open is the first step. At that point, you can share (or reexamine) your financial health. If you’re just getting together, that means sharing a snapshot of your current financial picture. Those who have been partnered for a while and are already sharing money can do an audit together of their overall financial well-being. Zero in on things like:
- Spending personality
- Budgeting style
- Credit score
- Past financial challenges like bankruptcies
- Current parts of your financial life that feel challenging
You can also take this opportunity to decide whether or not you’ll be combining your finances. Even if you’re already married, you might reevaluate your current system to see if it’s working. Research suggests that couples who pool their money are more likely to stay together, but it might actually cause more conflict for some couples. You may choose to partially blend your finances, like having a joint savings account but separate checking accounts. Others might prefer maintaining separate finances. There’s no wrong answer. Think about what feels right for you and your partner.
3. Align Your Financial Goals
Even if you have money scripts that seem to be at odds, the two of you may realize that you share common financial goals—you might just have different views on how to achieve them. If you have children, for example, you’ll probably both agree that their future is important. Even if you don’t have kids, retirement planning is always something to think about.
Begin by clarifying your top five financial goals for the coming year, and then sharing them. What goals can you work on together? Can you prioritize them? An experienced financial advisor can help you create a personalized plan for getting there, along with ways to help ease financial friction along the way. That involves understanding each other’s risk tolerances and objectives. If these things are out of alignment, your financial advisor can help you strategize together.
4. Improve Your Money Talks
Once you’re financially aligned, having regular money talks can keep that positive momentum going. That means adapting to financial surprises and tweaking your approach as needed. These talks don’t have to be formal or lengthy. Get a recurring date on the calendar for a quick financial check-in. Think of it as a time to review your spending, take stock of your financial goals, and go over any challenges or financial hiccups you may be experiencing.
It’s likely that your money scripts will continue coming up, so you may need to work through those together. Patience and non-judgement are critical here—and don’t forget the power of emotional responsiveness.
At Opal Wealth Advisors, we help couples navigate their financial differences, understand each other’s money scripts and values, and effectively plan for the future. These things can be triggering, but you don’t have to go it alone. Contact us today so and your partner can financially thrive together.
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