This is a paid partnership with the CFP Board. All opinions expressed are my own.”
Finances are one of the leading causes of stress in relationships and can ultimately lead to divorce. Ideally, it would be great to have an understanding of each other’s finances before any foray into marriage, however, this does not always occur.
When people show you who they are, believe them. This is single-handedly the best advice and can be used in any situation. If your partner or significant other continuously puts off bills or has a history of just letting them slide, then this is a major red flag. I’m not saying people can’t change once they have an understanding of how and it’s important to make better choices, but if they are uninterested in doing so, then it may be time for you to move on.
If you want to start a serious conversation with your significant other about finances, here are some ways you can do it. Since it can often be a tough conversation to have, if things get too heated, then take a break from the conversation and come back to it at a later date.
Let’s Make A Plan
Nowadays it can be difficult to really set time aside to conquer something as difficult as finances on your own. Many people work and have families to take care of as well as other responsibilities. So seeking professional help to set a plan and deal with these things is the most viable option for them.
Benefits of working with a CFP® professional
CFP® professionals are trained to help you manage it all and are held to rigorous ethical standards. Unlike most of us, they understand the complexities of the changing financial climate and know how to make financial planning recommendations in your best interest.
If there are certain goals that you and your spouse have in mind, this can take a huge load off and allow you both to focus on the end game, instead of everything in between!
CFP® professionals are required to put clients’ interests above their own. They also have to provide their financial planning services as a “fiduciary”, which in layman’s terms means “acting in the best interest of their financial planning clients”. The sad part is that not all financial planning designations require these ethical standards, so it’s important that you find someone who does have to be held to these standards!
The best way to make a plan is to sit down with your spouse and have “the talk”! Need help getting started? Keep reading to find out how we started making our long term financial plan.
Make It A Regular Part of Your Conversation
“Money Meetings” are what my husband and I refer to our weekly late-night session where we go over bills and other things money related that need to be taken care of. We discuss how much we have, how much we need, where we need to cut corners (if needed) in order to reach our goal. These meetings can be stressful, but if you come into it with an understanding that you want things to be better, and to not play a blame game, then this may help lighten things up a bit.
Make “The Talk” A Priority
Because having a solid financial plan is important, you must make these conversations a priority. It can be a bit odd if you have never done it before, but the more you do it, the more you will get used to it.
Outline ahead of time what you intend to talk about. That way if one partner has anxiety over some of the topics they can work through them beforehand, either with you or alone if needed. Here are some topics that you bring to the meeting to discuss:
- Credit Score
- Financial Goals
- Past financial mistakes
- Your assets and debt
- Questions you have about money
Being honest during your first meeting about everything (the good, bad and ugly), will set the tone for all future meetings. Holding back things can lead to distrust and can ultimately keep you from meeting your financial goals.
Admit to Your Mistakes
If your loans in default or a lot of collections, let your partner know. This will enable you both to come up with a viable plan to get them taken care of. Don’t lie about your finances, things will be ten times worse if your partner has to find out down the road that you withheld information from them.
Discuss Your Goals
These meetings are the perfect time for you and your partner to discuss your long and short term goals. Whether you want to save for retirement, invest or buy a home; take this time now to lay it all out on the table.
Meetings are also a good time to set your budgets. If you like to eat out, set a maximum. This can also be done for groceries, entertainment as well as fixed bills. Having a written budget will remove any gray area that may be lingering between you and your partner. Budgets can be tweaked if necessary as well.
Have a Go-To Person
Taking care of finances is a joint effort, but it doesn’t hurt if there was one person who kind of managed the ins and outs and takes the lead on ensuring things get done. This is the person who is going to be proactive in making sure things flow smoothly and that you stick to your plan as a couple.
If you expect that your partner sticks to your monthly dining out budget, then that may mean they will need to back away from the Chick Fil A line during lunch and start packing more lunches. No adult wants to feel as if they are being treated like a child or micro-managed, however, it’s important to make sure that both know what to expect from the other.
When in Doubt, Talk It Out
Closed mouths don’t get fed. So if you are unsure about something, ask. It’s okay not to know something, this is what being in a relationship is about. Having proper communication in the early stages of this game will help you better communicate later on down the road or in case things go south with your budgeting plan.
Your overall goal besides financial freedom should be to openly talk about money with your partner. Sometimes we find conversations about money taboo, but it’s best to know what you are getting in to.
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