Five Ways to Have Financial Conversations with your Sweetheart
When planning a date night or weekend getaway, few people think to make a discussion of finances part of the event. However, with money frequently cited as one of top stressors in relationships and one of the main causes of divorce, allocating time to have financial conversations with your sweetheart is a worthwhile endeavor. On this Valentine’s Day we thought we would offer a few ideas for how you can make “money talk” a constructive part of your relationship:
- Take a Money Retreat. A number of couples we know book a weekend getaway each year to a relaxing place where, away from the hurly burly of daily life, they can discuss their goals and aspirations for the coming year. A Money Retreat offers the opportunity to review prior progress, set priorities and goals for the coming year, and lay out the steps needed to make progress toward those goals. Taking the time to ensure that you and your partner are on the same page financially helps maximize progress and minimize conflicts.
- Schedule a Money Date Night. For a more casual event, you can plan a date night or a series of date nights to accomplish the same objectives as a Money Retreat. You can even use the subsequent date nights after a Money Retreat as a regular check-in to review your progress.
- Add a “money with no strings attached” line item to your budget. We’re sure it won’t come as a surprise to hear that couples sometimes have different attitudes about saving and spending and that this can lead to tension in a relationship. A simple technique that has helped many couples in this situation is the addition of a “money with no strings attached” line item to the family budget. This is money that each partner can spend without guilt or explanation. The line item is predetermined to keep the couple within their overall budget and on track for their saving goals, while providing space for the guilt-free spending that we all sometimes crave.
- Conduct a Money Fire Drill. In a joint LearnVest and TD Ameritrade Study entitled Love and Money in America, 6 in 10 respondents said they trust their partners completely to manage their finances as a couple. This percentage increases among older respondents to 7 in 10. When one partner handles all the finances, however, it can leave the other in dire straights if an emergency arises. Both partners should know where to find the checkbook, financial statements, insurance policies, and estate documents. Both should likewise know where to find the name and contact information for the family insurance agent, attorney, accountant, and financial planner (who likely has the contact information for all the others). Finally, both partners should know the usernames, passwords, and web addresses needed to access important financial information online. Periodically conducting a Money Fire Drill, in which the partner who has delegated the family’s financial management demonstrates knowledge of all the key items listed above, will ensure that delegation doesn’t mean disaster.
- Sharing money memories. It can be both fun and enlightening for a couple to share their money memories by answering simple questions like, “What was your earliest money memory?” or “What was your first big purchase? How did it make you feel?” Here’s a set of 20 simple questions that you can use as a jumping off point, courtesy of Yeske Buie and Money Quotient.
With the right attitude and a little effort, family finances can be transformed from a source of stress to a tool for deepening your relationship. Use this Valentine’s Day as a reminder that love and money can go well together!