“If you are not on the same page, it will be much harder to make strides in the right direction as you will both be working in different directions as opposed to helping each other down the same path.”
Having control of your finances is a great goal to strive for, and personally I believe the more you talk to others about finances the better off you can be; you get other viewpoints, opinions, and ideas when brainstorming with others than just trying to figure everything out all on your own. This is highly critical when considering your significant other, especially if you are blending/involved with each other’s finances. As important as I think it is to be open and to discuss financial matters, it’s important to remember that not everybody thinks this way. Many people are uncomfortable discussing their finances, and if you have a partner who is not used to or open to the idea of discussing finances, this is a hurdle that will have to be jumped. This is important to you and your financial goals because you and your partner have to be working towards the same goals if you want to be as successful as possible. If you are not on the same page, it will be much harder to make strides in the right direction as you will both be working in different directions as opposed to helping each other down the same path. A partnership should be built on open communication and trust, and how to handle your finances and future financial goals require both these traits.
This is something that Ms. EM and I had to work out when we decided to seriously think of our futures as combined and not just our independent goals. For some background, before getting together I was already interested in finances and knew I wanted to maximize my time spent working; I will be talking about my starting situation in a later article! Ms. EM on the other hand did not have any background with the technical details of finance and was saving money by keeping everything in a regular savings account. Now this isn’t a bad place to start, but there are more efficient ways to grow your money than just having it sit in a bank. Throughout the earlier stages of our relationship, we would talk about how to start getting more financially aware often. She opened a Roth IRA, drastically increased her 401k contributions, and opened a new credit card that gave more benefits than her previous bank offered. Through teaching her about the financial world, my own interest and skills grew, so we were able to grow together. This has resulted in both of us being very open and highly involved with all of our financials, with both of us being fully aware of our monetary standing at all times. Now, we are working together to achieve our common goal of financial independence.
Our personal experience turned into a gradual immersion to the financial world for Ms. EM, but it all started with one big opening conversation (“The Talk”) to introduce truly focusing on finances so we could start out together on the same page. This type of opening conversation must occur if you want your partner on board with your financial goals, but it has to be handled correctly regarding your partners’ current knowledge and involvement. There are three main categories your partner may fall under regarding their knowledge of the financial world: 1. Little to no knowledge, 2. Often incorrect or misguided knowledge, or 3. Moderate to high knowledge. The first step of “The Talk” is to figure out which category your partner is currently in, as this will dictate how you move forward. Conversation at this point will also help you gauge your partner’s openness to learning more or being vocal about your finances as a couple. You may find your partner is excited to discuss financial options with you, and simply has not known how to breach the topic (this is where Ms. EM fell in our personal relationship) in which case you can move straight into the deeper stages of “The Talk”. However, if you find that your partner is hesitant to discuss finances with you, the first critical step is finding out where their discomfort is coming from and then addressing that issue. Are they nervous about disclosing how much money they make or spend? Are they embarrassed about earning a different amount that you, more or less? Do they have other personal issues holding them back from opening up? Do they have any depts or other financial situations they have not mentioned to you before? Overcoming this barrier is key to starting your financial partnership together, but you have to be sure to let your partner move at their own pace so they do not feel attacked or pressured. Reassure them that you are simply trying to involve them with your own financial thoughts and goals, and that you want your future to include your combined decisions regarding money. The earlier you start working towards your goals, the easier they are to achieve, especially when there is more than one person involved.
“…you have to be sure to let your partner move at their own pace so they do not feel attacked or pressured. Reassure them that you are simply trying to involve them with your own financial thoughts and goals, and that you want your future to include your combined decisions regarding money.”
The next step of “The Talk” after ensuring your partner is open and ready to discuss finances is to make your long-term goals together. Where do you want to be in 5 years? 10 years? 20 years? What are your retirement goals? Once you decide on your broad goals, it’s time to fill in the gaps of how you can get to those goals; in other words, what do you need to start doing now to make sure you can achieve your future vision? At this point, the conversation should shift to what each of you have current knowledge in regarding finance. Most likely, you have not experienced the same things or been exposed to the same topics and learning from each other is a great way to build trust and understanding with your partner. This is also a great time to do research together, so you can both strengthen your understandings and you can also learn new aspects of finance together. Once you hit this point, congratulations, you have officially completed “The Talk” with your partner and you are so much closer to achieving your financial goals together for the future!
Learning about finance is always continuous; there is never a point where you have learned all there is to know. Being able to grow and learn together with your partner will help strengthen your base as a couple in more than just financial terms. All that’s left now is putting your knowledge and learning into action and making those steps together towards the future you want to have. I hope that this blog can be there to help as you continue to grow and meet your goals!