Do you know how much your significant other makes? What about the amount of debt that he or she has? Have you two talked about spending and budgeting? Do you have a plan for how large financial decisions will be made or how expenses and bills will be paid? Is there a set amount you can spend before you have a discussion with your significant other? Do you two meet regularly to go over financial planning and budgeting? Although it may not be romantic or sexy, finances and money management are topics that should, and need, to be discussed in relationships; the earlier the better and regularly. The number one stressor in people’s lives is money and it can be a significant source of conflict and strain on a relationship. Disagreements and arguments about money and finances have also been found to be a leading reason for divorce. With a few easy steps and techniques, you can create healthy financial habits and have positive discussions about money in your relationship.
- Start with an open, honest, and non-judgmental discussion about money, debt, spending, and opinions about financial topics.
In order to be able to plan and set up healthy financial behaviors and habits, all information about each other’s financial situation, good and bad, needs to be known. The conversation should be judgment free, what happened in the past is just that, the past, and it cannot be undone. Now is the time for the two of you to move forward and create a positive financial situation together, one in which you are both active participants.
- Determine roles for managing money and paying bills.
Decisions need to be made in terms of who will be responsible for paying each bill, who will manage the budgets and track spending, and the accounts that will be maintained, whether independently or jointly. Again, although one person may be “responsible” for the task, both people should know what is going on and keep up on the couple’s financial situation.
- Set weekly, or at least monthly, budget and financial meetings.
Preferably, weekly meetings should be scheduled to discuss the couple’s budget and spending. If weekly is not possible, then make sure to meet at least monthly. This should be something that is set in advance, scheduled for a consistent day and time, and viewed as an important part of the relationship. Just like time should be dedicated to date nights, grocery shopping, cleaning, etc., to maintain a healthy and positive relationship, so should financial discussions.
- Have an agreed upon dollar amount for when finical decisions need to be discussed as a partnership.
Determine a dollar amount that both people are comfortable with before needing to consult with the other person. Say for example you set the number at one hundred dollars. Each person would be able to make purchase under one hundred dollars, within the budget and their allowed spending, however they see fit. But it the purchase goes over one hundred dollars, then they should consult with their significant other to make sure that both agree that the purchase is necessary and can fit into the budget or be accommodated for.
- Continue to be open and honest about finances and money.
Having an initial conversation about money and setting up a budget and financial decisions is great, but it needs to be an ongoing and evolving aspect of the relationship. Continue to discuss money, find ways as a couple to overcome obstacles and unexpected financial situations or debts, and enjoy it! Money won’t be a stressor in your relationship if you don’t let it be.
If you feel that you are in need of help in dealing with financial issues yourself or discussing them with your partner, contact Symmetry Counseling today and make an appointment for individual or couples therapy with a financial therapist.