Money and marriage is always a tough topic. Honestly, you want to talk about it early on in your relationship (even though I know it is scary). If you are already married and panicking…don’t worry. I have worked with dozens of married couples and helped them get on the same page (even when it feels impossible).
If you have financial goals you are trying to meet, whether it is paying off debt, saving for a home or vacation, or trying to invest as much as possible, and your partner is not on-board it can make way for a rocky road.
Now, I am not saying you have to be on the same page right away. But, you should be headed in that direction. Joe and I talked about finances on one of our first few dates and we definitely weren’t on the same page. He had six-figures of debt and was fine paying minimum payments forever. I was close to becoming debt free and I was focused on my long-term financial goals.
One of the top questions I get asked is, how do I get my partner on board? Maybe one of you is the spender, the other is the saver. Maybe you love to budget, and your partner hates even the word budget. Maybe you each want to spend on different things.
It is possible to get on the same page, I promise. Let’s talk about a few things you can do whether you are dating, engaged, or married.
1. Make the conversation a priority
Why are we so scared to talk about money? We talk about everything else with our partners. I know it is easier said than done but this has to be a priority.
Is your partner the kind of person who needs to have a sit-down formal meeting to understand the ins and outs of what you are trying to accomplish? Or is your partner someone who needs a more casual conversation as to avoid becoming anxious about the topic? Both styles of conversation can have the desired effect, the important part is that you choose a setting that will make your partner the most comfortable. Not sure if a true budget meeting is for you? Make sure to read this blog post on budget meetings.
2. Have open and honest conversations
You know the saying. It’s so basic, yet so true; Teamwork makes the dream work. You and your partner will never be able to reach your goals if you cannot have an open and honest conversation where you share your all your numbers. Not only is sharing your numbers important, but also being fully upfront about your dreams/goals and expectations. Make it conversational. While you’re driving in the car, ask one question to start a conversation. This doesn’t need to be a 5-hour initial conversation. Keep it simple and casual.
Some questions to ask:
- What do you like to spend your money on?
- What worries you about money?
- Is it important to become debt free? Do you have a debt free timeline?
- What are your big financial goals?
- How often do you want financial check-ins?
- How do you currently budget?
3: Talk about your individual wants and goals
To have your partner be a willing participant it may be better to set your goals with them as opposed to setting expectations for them. It is important to set goals together, but you also have to remember you are individuals with your own wants, dreams, and needs.
Is your partner a jetsetter? Then budget for trips (even local weekend getaways). Does your partner have a hobby that they don’t want to give up? Make sure to include your individual hobbies in your budget too.
To get on the same page, you need to talk about your big dreams as a couple and as individuals. For example, I always wanted to start a business and Joe does too. Right now, my business is the one we are focusing on, but we will be focusing on Joe’s soon (his has a much higher start-up cost). I also care about South Carolina football (and by care, I mean I’m obsessed) so season football tickets were something I was not willing to give up. Joe doesn’t necessarily care about those season tickets, but he knows they are important to me. We also budget for fishing/camping trips for Joe.
Need more help? My course, Money & Marriage, will help you get on the same page so you can end money fights forever.
4. Look at the numbers together
I know it is terrifying, but you will have to sit down and go through numbers together. Don’t hide anything. Go through all your accounts including all of your debt and complete a money audit (this is something I talk about in my course Money & Marriage).
You will want to know how much you each have in checking accounts, savings accounts, and any debt you owe. I know it is scary to talk about, but I promise you’ll feel better after. If you aren’t familiar with my story, I married into $154k of debt. Joe thought he had around $100k of debt but when we actually looked at the numbers it was $154k (I was like UMM WHAT).
But if we didn’t look at the numbers together, we wouldn’t be able to create a plan together. Whether you want to combine finances or not, you should go through this process together. If you are just starting to date you don’t need to do this, but if you are engaged or married you need to.
Give yourself grace and remember it will take time to get on the same page financially. You’ve got this and if you have any questions, leave them in the comments. I am here to help!