It’s hard to get our acts together. It’s not easy to figure out our finances.
We’ve gotta learn how to budget, save money, start investing, buy insurance; the list goes on and on. Personal finance is a lot.
So, if it’s hard for us to do it as individuals, it’s harder to get on the same page with someone else. This is true for small things like where to go for dinner. It’s true for hot-button issues like politics. And it’s true for highly personal matters like money.
It’s so tricky that if it weren’t important, we probably wouldn’t do it. But it is important, so we have to do it. We need to get on the same page with our partner about money.
I’ve been a financial advisor for over 20 years, and I’ve certainly worked with a lot of couples. But up until recently, I’d never spent very much time thinking about a process for helping two people find consensus on money.
Perhaps it was the straw that broke the camel’s back, but after a recent presentation, one of the participants asked, “How do I get on the same page with my husband?” Since I didn’t have a concise answer, I got to work. I thought through the essential areas to cover, and how best to have conversations about money.
My goal here is to help give you some practical ideas on what you can do to bridge any gap between you and your partner when it comes to your finances.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- The importance of a sense of urgency
- Recognizing patterns and beliefs
- Goals and values
- Different perspectives on money
- Financial literacy
- Moving forward
Let’s get started.
A sense of urgency
The best time to plant a tree was 30 years ago. The next best time is today. An important thing about personal finance to keep in mind is that much of it is time sensitive. The longer you wait to begin pursuing your financial goals, the harder it becomes to achieve them.
Therefore, despite the fact that talking about money can be hard, you have to. Why? Because if you keep putting it off, you’ll run out of time to become financially successful. What does that mean? That means you’ll have a hard time being able to retire and stop working.
You and I have enough time to do most anything we want. But we don’t have enough time to waste. That you’re reading this suggests you’re ready, and I want to help.
Wherever you’re at financially, set the intention that you and your partner are going to get on the same page and start moving the direction of your most important goals and objectives.
Recognizing patterns and beliefs
We all follow similar and predictable patterns. Our brains crave certainty and really like consistency. If you’re like me, the beginning and end of every day look very similar. And that’s probably true for many other aspects of your life as well.
We start to “figure things out,” in nearly every aspect of our lives. Sometimes, that’s good if our habits and routines are healthy. Other times it’s bad, like when we’re in the habit of eating crappy food and being sedentary.
When it comes to money, we follow patterns and many of our patterns are based on our beliefs about money. In my 20s, I avoided personal financial matters. I didn’t track my cash flow, never budgeted, and was in and out of credit card debt. Upon reflection, I discovered I had some very limiting beliefs about money.
I grew up in a wonderful middle-class home. My mom was a schoolteacher and a single mom. She did an awesome job, but there was never enough money to go around. Once a month, my mom would “pay bills,” which meant she’d spread all the bills across the dining room table. Because there was never enough money to go around, this was a really stressful activity and my brother and I knew to keep our distance.
Once I recognized my beliefs and patterns, I was able to address them. That meant changing my beliefs and creating new habits and routines.
It will be important for you and your partner to take a hard look at how you’re interacting with money. When you recognize a negative behavior, work to trace it back to the origin. From there, you can start to make changes.
To help you dig deeper into your beliefs about money, check out this blog post.
Goals and values
The only way to have the life you want is to know how you want to live. Goal setting is how we do that. I imagine you and your partner have ideas on what it is you want, but how detailed have you been in your goal setting?
Going through the exercise of talking about what you want will confirm that you’re on the same page, or will alert you to the fact you’ve got some work to do. To help you in this process, you can access our Goals course for free.
Like goals, you probably share many of the same values as your partner. And it’s really important to confirm that.
Values help us to make decisions on how we’re going to allocate our most important resources of time, attention, and money. When we’re clear on them, it makes activities like budgeting and saving a lot easier. You can access our Values course for free as well.
Different perspectives on money
How you look at something makes all the difference. When you’re clear on your goals and values, when you’ve explored your patterns and beliefs, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of how and why you’re looking at certain situations. The more you know your partner’s perspective on personal finance, the better.
It’s common that one of you will be a saver, while the other is a spender. One of you will be aggressive, and the other risk-averse. You may love real estate, and your partner may be into crypto. Our preferences for the “best” way to do things has an obvious influence on our finances.
When you’re working to save for one of your financial objectives with your partner, it’s important to have an understanding of how they feel the best way to go about it is. Often, a compromise of some kind is required to ensure both parties are comfortable with the direction you’re moving in.
On a level of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, where do you rate your level of financial literacy? What about your partners?
I mentioned in the beginning about the depth and complexity of personal finance. That being said, it’s absolutely possible for you to successfully navigate your financial life. What’s important is you diagnose where you’re strong, and where you may be deficient. This is true for your partner as well.
You may be awesome at budgeting, but lacking in investing knowledge. Determining what new learning or help you need is an important step in becoming financially successful.
Once you’ve figured out which areas you need to work on, it’s time to figure out the best way forward. I want to share a framework I’ve developed to help you do it.
DIY. You can certainly do all of this yourself. You can read blog posts, watch YouTube videos, and learn about any personal finance topic.
Invest. You can also buy a course to help you along. We’ve got three free courses you can access, as well as our Get on the Same $ Page course.
Partner. You can also hire a coach or an advisor to help guide you through this process. Would love for you to check out our Academy Coaching Program.
While this will be challenging work, it’s worthwhile work. You and your partner are capable of getting on the same page and becoming financially successful.
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