Whether you’re in a new relationship, experiencing newlywed bliss or have been married for years, one thing is certain when it comes to your finances: It takes a certain set of relationship skills to be successful in love and money.
Relationships in general take patience, hard work, dedication, and an overall investment in both yourself and the commitment. Your finances however, need the following:
Team Work: There may be an “I” in marriage, but there isn’t in team. It takes a balance of efforts to reach your financial peak and you likely won’t get there if only one of you is doing all the work. Take time to review your finances on a bi-weekly or monthly basis and set joint goals as a couple. Set a strategy that you can work on together and celebrate mini-milestones and wins. Working together can also help you to stay on track as you have each other for encouragement and support when things get tough.
Organization: The same stress that is caused by clutter and disorder in your life can also come as a result of chaos around your finances. For financial success in your relationship, organization is key. Work together to get an understanding of your goals, your net worth and your cash flow. Create a system for tracking your expenses, debt pay down and savings. If you’re having trouble with where to start, sign up for a website such as www.mint.com to get you started. By syncing up your accounts, you’ll be able to analyze your spending activity and get clear on where adjustments are needed to get you on track.
Open Communication: Being honest with each other is an important part of your relationship – with and without finances. Being comfortable and feeling safe with expressing your fears, hopes, uncertainties, and overall experience (positive or negative) surrounding money is essential to living a financially sound life. Take time to talk to each other about how your parents saved and spent money, how you feel when you save versus spend, what your thoughts are on investing and any other relevant issues. In addition, if either of you has a money misstep along the way, come clean immediately. Hiding mishaps can only cause more harm down the road.
Active Listening: Being open with each other accounts for half of the puzzle; truly listening accounts for the other. When it comes to your money conversations and check-ins, utilizing your active listening skills will ensure you understand what your partner is trying to communicate. Show that you’re paying attention by making eye contact, nodding, or encouraging with a smile or verbal comment. Paraphrase what you believe you heard and ask clarifying questions throughout the conversation. Active listening demonstrates that you’re engaged in the conversation and interested in what your partner has to say. Although you may not always agree with what’s being said, it sets a framework for respect and understanding around your financial success.