It’s true, and while I’m no relationship counsellor I know how important it is for a couple and family to communicate about their money. Whether you feel that money is important or not, it plays a vital role in the North American family dynamic. It can make or break a relationship. It can be the root cause of couples not getting married. Or it can be the key to their long-term success, happiness and freedom.
But how do you successfully communicate about money with your partner, especially when you may be feeling private or some shame around your less-than-perfect financial situation?
The key is to just HAVE THE CONVERSATION. Making that first step may be the most difficult, but it’s imperative to open those communication lines. Recognize that you’re partners and working together toward financial success and your collective goals.
Here are my top 5 tips for successful money talk:
- Schedule a money meeting at least monthly to ensure that you’re continuing the open communication amidst busy lives and distractions
- Set financial goals, a household budget, check in to track your spending and goals in your monthly meeting
- Discuss major purchases (set a dollar figure that’s comfortable for your household budget) prior to making them so there are no surprises (or arguments)
- Be realistic with your kiddos when it comes to your family’s financial situation, and include them in your family financial goal-setting as they get older
- Transparency is key! Don’t open a credit card or extend a line of credit balance without talking to your partner. This doesn’t mean you have to have everything joint (I wouldn’t recommend that), but you should be open about your personal finances as they relate to your family’s finances
BONUS: live below your means. Keeping up with the Jones’ isn’t worth bankruptcy.
With a high divorce rate, understanding of the family finances and transparency between partners is key so that if there is a dissolution of marriage there are no surprises for either party. Too often we see a partner has the “job” of managing the money, which is great when it comes to simply staying on top of the household bills and budget, but there should never be a question in the other partner’s mind of what the household financial situation approximately is. Avoid surprises and just communicate.
If you’re not sure where to start, bring in a financial professional to ask the right questions and dig a bit deeper into your family finances. The collective conversation may answer questions about your partner’s or your family finances that you didn’t know you had.