Financial intimacy is a critical component of healthy, romantic relationships. Not only can financial intimacy bring you closer together and make it easier to reach your shared goals, but it can also help couples avoid misunderstandings and conflicts surrounding money.
Building financial intimacy includes developing trust, being vulnerable, creating common goals, cultivating equality in decision-making, and putting sustainable money practices into place. Whether you’re starting over in a brand-new relationship halfway through your life or have been married to your sweetheart for three decades, consistent and effective money conversations are essential.
Start Your Money Conversations off Strong in 3 Easy Steps
Learning how to talk about money with your partner can take time, practice, and effort. Even the most in-sync couples can find themselves fumbling when it comes to money conversations. But the more you talk about money, the more natural and easy it will feel.
The key to achieving rich, meaningful money conversations is starting slow and working up to the big, heavy topics. No one wants to be bombarded with questions regarding their debt or past financial mishaps right out of the gate.
Instead of letting money issues lead to hurtful arguments, overwhelm, and disunity, take these three easy steps to kick off your next financial conversation:
- Choose an appropriate time
- Create an agenda
- Seek unity through inclusive language
1. Schedule a Money Meeting
It’s never a good idea to get into a serious conversation when one or both of you are tired, stressed, overworked, or particularly anxious. And while you both have many demands on your time and energy, it’s important to find consistent, appropriate times to have your money conversations. Choose a time when you feel relaxed and have the mental energy and capacity to discuss big, important topics.
Similar to knowing when it’s an appropriate time to start a money conversation, it’s equally important to know when to stop. If things are getting heated or the conversation is proving unfruitful, table the conversation for another time. Don’t sweep anything under the rug; simply know when to stop, and try again soon.
2. Create (and Stick to) an Agenda
Depending on how often you have your money meetings, how long it’s been since the last one, or how many pressing financial issues you and your partner currently have, you could have a lot to talk about.
Decide beforehand what you want to talk about during your conversation and try your best to stay on topic. This is especially important if you have a topic to discuss that is emotionally charged. Before you begin, determine your top two to four discussion topics and create an informal agenda to guide your conversation. You might even consider setting a time limit to ensure you’re staying productive.
Having regular money meetings allows you to continually voice your opinions and concerns healthily. Consistency and transparency don’t leave room for problems to fester.
3. Seek Unity Through Inclusive Language
Topics such as spending, income, and debt can quicklylead to heated emotions. Using inclusive language that seeks unity can help soften tough conversations.
Using a phrase like “our money” instead of “my money” can create a completely different atmosphere and make your partner feel as though they are truly united with you as a team. And as with any tough conversation, “I” statements typically make the other person feel more receptive to what you have to say.
Seeking unity also means you need to refrain from judgment as much as possible. Past or current financial mistakes can cause anyone to feel ashamed or embarrassed. Further piling judgment on top will only make the other person shut down emotionally.
4 Talking Points for Your Money Meetings
While your money meetings will be unique to you and your partner, there are some imperative talking points that most couples will find are essential to building financial intimacy. These four talking points include:
- Priorities, values, and goals
- Spending and saving expectations
- Career plans
- Debt management
1. Priorities, Values, and Goals
Among other valuable resources like time and energy, money is an important tool to help you achieve goals that align with your core values. And when you’re in a relationship, you get to share these values and goals with your partner and even create mutual ones!
Money can be used to achieve the lifestyle you desire, invest in companies you care about, make meaningful charitable donations, and leave a legacy for the next generations.
It’s important to check in with one another to ensure your financial decisions are aligned with your shared values and goals. These types of conversations can spark financial intimacy and propel you forward both individually and as a couple.
2. Spending and Saving Expectations
Discussing your expectations for how you will spend and how you will save is critical because it can create and cultivate trust. Setting these expectations can help prevent both mismanaged finances and money arguments.
When you have a financial plan devised from your shared values and goals, you can live without fear that your partner is going to do something completely out of line with your shared plan. Likewise, you can be confident that you won’t feel the need to explain yourself when you make spending choices that are within the parameters of your mutual expectations. Ultimately, you’ll both gain confidence in the other person.
For example, if you have a shared goal of paying off your home within the next two years, you can expect your partner to not go out and buy a brand-new car tomorrow. On the flip side, if you’ve decided that purchases under $500 don’t need to be discussed first, you can rest easy knowing you won’t have to defend or explain your smaller purchases.
3. Career Plans
One of your biggest wealth-building tools is your income. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or the CEO at a publicly traded company, what you do day in and day out affects both your finances and your overall life satisfaction.
Talking about your career plans with your partner can help you set realistic goals that take lifestyle and fulfillment into account. Perhaps you’re not happy with your current position and want to make a change but are scared of how that will impact your financial situation. Or maybe you love your career but hate feeling guilty for working long hours.
Taking time to discuss your work-life balance, personal fulfillment, and current career trajectory can be a game-changer for you and your relationship.
4. Debt Management
Debt can cause immense financial burdens that are difficult to recover from. Debt can also cause other struggles, such as depression and anxiety to worsen. When leveraged well, debt can be a catalyst for wealth-building. But when used improperly, debt can lead to financial strain and emotional shame.
If you’re in a relatively new relationship, it’s essential to talk about debt and find out how much debt the other person has as well as their thoughts and feelings toward debt. If you are extremely uncomfortable with utilizing debt and your partner sees no problem with it, this could lead to strain in your relationship.
If you’re already in a committed relationship, it’s important to discuss any debts you carry as a couple and your plan for paying them off. If this has been a sore topic for you and your partner in the past, tread lightly and remember emotions are tightly intertwined with debt.
Either way, incorporating discussions about your beliefs around debt, your current obligations, and your plan to pay off debt is the best way to create financial intimacy and move forward toward your shared goals.
Enhance Your Money Meetings with Legacy Planning
One of the best money conversations you can have with your partner is talking about the resources you have available to help you with your finances. This can include increasing your financial literacy through books and podcasts, as well as speaking to and working with a financial advisor.
At Legacy Planning, we love working with couples and families to discover their values, priorities, goals, spending and saving habits, debt utilization and management, and career plans. We can help you sort through these different talking points to build wealth that is based on financial intimacy and harmony. To see how we can help you, click here to schedule a conversation with me today.
Content in this material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.