Let’s face it. Money can be a stressful discussion. A discussion that can cause heated arguments, cold shoulders and hurt feelings. Especially when it is a discussion between two lovers trying to figure out the best plan to manage the household’s finances. Sources have proven that money is one of the main causes for divorce or separation.
But, it doesn’t have to be. Yes, money brings up a lot of different emotions and triggers for two people in a relationship. However, these emotions do not have to be anger, hostility and resentment. A conversation about money with your spouse, partner or loved one can be lighthearted and full of joy.
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, this is the perfect time to practice having loving conversations about money with your significant other. If money is an uncomfortable or stressful topic for you and your partner, check out these five steps to help ease the tension.
1. Schedule a weekly money date
Many couples only talk about money when it is time to pay the bills or something financially stressful happens. These are tense situations and each person will likely be on edge during the conversation. Instead, schedule a 30-minute to one-hour chat each week, where the two of you discuss finances. You can go on a walk, grab some tea from the local cafe, or another activity that gets you out of the house and in a relaxing environment.
2. Share your feelings about money
Your first money date might seem awkward. But it's the first step in communicating openly about finances with your partner. Lack of communication about money leads to anger, bitterness and resentment. Are you worried about the future? Is there a bill looming over your head and causing sleepless nights? Do your partner’s spending habits irk you? During the date, share any concerns you have about money. And practice listening without judgment. This will allow your partner to also freely express themselves by creating a safe-space.
3. Organize your finances
During your first money date, organize your finances. Grab a sheet of paper and write down your total take-home income. Write down all of the credit cards and outstanding loans you two have, both joint and separate. Total your household bills, savings and investment accounts. My favorite tools for automating this process are Personal Capital for my personal finances and Xero for my business. Once you link all of your accounts, you can easily see all of your financial information in one place on the application’s dashboard.
4. Discuss your goals
Are you two on the same page about goals for your financial future? Your goals do not have to be identical, but they do have to support each other. If your goal is to retire to Costa Rica within the next five years while your partner wants to have children and retire to the suburbs of Indiana, then you probably need to have a serious conversation about your plans for the future. Discuss where you want to be financially within the next 90 days, one year and five years from now. How much do you want to have in your investment accounts? Do you want to take some vacations? Do you want to purchase a home? A second home? Launch a business? Get it all out in the open.
5. Split the bill payments
The last step is to ensure that both parties are owning a piece of the financial responsibility. In most households, it's one person who manages the household bills. If there is one income for the house, you can still split the bill payments. One income will cover the bills, but both people are taking ownership of physically making the bill payments. Take a look at the list of household bills and assign someone to handle each account. This will eliminate the overwhelm that some feel when they have to manage all of the bills. And it will allow both people to feel empowered when it comes to making financial decisions about the household.
Take action now and schedule a money date with your loved one.
I’d love to hear from you! How do you and your partner discuss finances within your household? Let me know in the comments below.
Bio: Danetha Doe is a celebrity business strategist and creator of Money & Mimosas, the money blog that encourages shopping sprees. A former NFL Cheerleader turned accountant and trusted resource on financial technology, she was recognized as one of the Top 40 under 40 accounting professionals by CPA Practice Advisor in 2015. For more money and business tips, click here to join the weekly #MoneyandMimosas newsletter. Follow her on Twitter: @danethadoe, IG: @danethadoe and Facebook.