You love your spouse or partner dearly, but when it comes to money, there’s friction – so you avoid talking about it.
It’s uncomfortable and you just can’t seem to get on the same page.
One spouse might be a spender and the other, a saver. Or one spouse thinks long-term and the other, short-term.
What about investing? Chances are you came from families that treated money drastically different. Each of you are doing your own thing with your money. Is there any hope to get on the same page with your finances?
It requires some education, creative thinking and lots of communication, but it can be done. (If you’re not married, this applies to your significant other, partner or future spouse).
Here are 7 things you need to do to get on the same page financially with your spouse/partner:
1. Talk and get on a common page with what your long-term goals are.
Couples often don’t discuss their long term goals, but you really need to talk about them. Where do you see yourself living in 20 years? Do you want a second home? To retire at the beach? To play golf? Ski? If you don’t agree on your future vision, it’s going to continue to cause problems. If you can’t agree on everything, then agree on what you can agree on and work on compromising on the things you can’t agree on.
2. Talk openly (without making accusations) about whether you’re a spender or saver.
One spouse is often more “free” with money and one is more “careful.” Which one are you? Talk about why you turned out this way (was it from your experiences or your family’s?).
3. Determine what your priorities are for your money.
What do you value the most? What should be your highest priority with your money? Remember to put your retirement higher up on the list than you normally might want to. It should be right up there after food, shelter and kids.
4. Agree to move homes infrequently.
Moving frequently is one of the most costly mistakes you can make. Every time you buy and sell a home, you’re paying 3 to 6% commission, moving costs, expenses to remodel the home you’re selling and the home you’re buying, new furnishings, window coverings, etc. Don’t buy a condo downtown and then move to the suburbs to have a child and then move again for a better school district. The best plan is to choose a home that you can live in for 20 years or more and then stay there.
5. Allow for “dream” items.
Dream items are those things you absolutely MUST have today. He wants a better set of golf clubs and she may want a Prada handbag. Have a balanced approach and agree to some spending today and keep one eye on saving for the long-term. One way to be more efficient with more expensive purchases is make them count for your gifts for the whole year, not just an event. For example, use your budget for 3 holidays (birthday, anniversary and Christmas or Hanukkah) and combine them together. That way you get one $900 gift instead of 3 – $300 gifts.
6. Understand the difference between how women and men think about investing.
Men are generally pretty comfortable taking risks and women tend to prefer security. For example, he wants to grow the money, she wants to protect the money. Of course, those are broad generalities and may not be true for your relationship, but opposites do attract and you may find yourself with differing opinions about investing. Get them out in the open and find out where you agree, disagree and can compromise.
It’s been documented that a woman’s #1 fear is being homeless, so a home is very important to a woman. Acknowledge her need for security and your level of comfort with risk. See if you can find a middle ground.
It’s also been documented that women investors tend to do better than men. That’s because men have a tendency to trade more often and women make an investment and stick with it. Over time, buying and holding outperforms more frequent trading, so the women have better investment returns. Understanding that this is at a primal level can take away the blame or anger that can be felt from being polar opposites.
I know a man who was all excited to invest in a friend’s new business. His wife thought it sounded too good to be true. She ended up being right and saving them from investing in a scam. Honor each other’s opinions, intuition and opinions about how to invest and you’ll find a nice balance.
7. Have a money date night.
David Bach, author of the book, Smart Women Finish Rich, suggests taking time once a month to have a money date night where you discuss your goals for money and get on the same page. Be careful not to get into an argument and don’t act like a “parent” lecturing your “child”. This should be a pleasant time where you dream about the future and what you both want. Compromise is key and so is praising each other for positive behaviors and progress.
Tell us your thoughts…will you try these tips? Do you have some of your own that you want to share?
Let us know in the comments section below.
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c Linda P. Jones, 2016
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