I think it’s a good thing you’re asking about a money imbalance in relationships. It’s a common occurrence that’s not talked about enough. And that’s a problem.
The #1 reason couples divorce is infidelity. Behind that, money is #2, and a lack of communication is #3. Therefore, being able to talk honestly about money will improve your chances of marital success. Not being able to could cause disaster.
Over the course of my 20+ year career as a financial advisor, I’ve helped countless couples get on the same page with money. I’m honored to be named to Investopedia’s list of the top 100 financial advisors many years running. Rarely is there not a money imbalance. It’s almost always the case that one spouse earns more than the other.
My goal is to help you get on the same page as your spouse with money. I’ll share what’s worked for my clients and my personal experience. I commend you for wanting to nip any problem you’re seeing in the bud. As you know, minor problems don’t take care of themselves; they turn into bigger problems.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Separate or together?
- Goals and values
- Patterns and habits
- Money beliefs
Let’s get started.
Separate or together?
There are plenty of married couples out there who keep their finances separate. If this is the route you choose, I think that’s great.
If you make the decision that you’re going to treat all money as community property, it’s essential you commit to that decision. Once you’ve done that, you’ll move forward together on the same team.
To be successful with this arrangement, there are some important things you need to commit to doing:
Open and honest communication
You’ve got to express your feelings immediately. When we ignore things that are bothering us, they build and can foster resentment. And resentment is a quiet destroyer of relationships. If you’ve got a problem with the way your partner is handling money, you need to talk about it.
Having a budget you agree upon is essential. Not only will it help you know you’re on track to reach your financial goals, it will show you when one of you is overspending in certain areas. This can help you get in front of conflict.
This is also true of your cash flow. It’s wise to review your transactions on a monthly basis to ensure you agree.
Leave your ego at the door
This goes for both parties. If you’re the one who earns less (or doesn’t work outside the home), you need to be aware of your ego’s influence on your behavior just as the partner who earns more. Don’t let pride impede a happy relationship.
Be patient and forgive
Money and relationships aren’t a game of perfect. Both you and your partner will do things that get under one another’s skin. Recognize we’re all human, so be patient and forgive one another.
Goals and values
You need to make sure you’re both rowing in the same direction. And you can’t assume you are. The only way to know that you and your partner want the same things is to talk about it. Going through a goal setting exercise together is a great way to ensure this. In service of helping you get on the same page, you can access our Goals course for free.
Odds are, you share many values with your partner. But like goal setting, assumption is a bad idea. Instead, have a conversation about values and come up with a set of agreed upon family values.
Our values can help us decide on what we spend money on. You may be interested in spending on experiences, and your partner may want the latest gadget. Therefore it’s valuable to talk about it. To help guide your conversation, you can also access our Values course for free.
Patterns and habits
We all have patterns and habits we follow. Humans make around 35,000 decisions everyday, many are made unconsciously. A main reason partners struggle to get on the same page is that each of us have our own patterns, and most of us aren’t aware of them.
Many of our current habits come from our core beliefs about money. The majority of those beliefs were formed when we were kids. When our beliefs about money are positive, there aren’t any issues. When they’re negative, they can limit our ultimate financial potential.
So how do you know if you’ve got limiting money beliefs? Go through these prompts and fill in the blanks without thinking too deeply:
- People with money are __________
- Money makes people __________
- I’d have more money if __________
- My parents thought money would __________
- In my family, money caused __________
- Money equals __________
- If I had money, I’d __________
- If I could afford it, I’d __________
- Money is __________
- Money causes __________
- Having money is not __________
- In order to have more money, I’d need to __________
- When I have money, I usually __________
- I think money __________
- People think money __________
If you think you (or your partner) may have limiting beliefs, work to identify any behaviors or habits where they may be manifesting. For example, if you don’t enjoy budgeting or tracking your cash flow, your family may have had negative (or no) experiences when you were growing up.
When you identify negative financial behaviors, work to trace them back as far as you can. The good news about our beliefs is that we can replace them with positive ones.
I encourage you to go through this exercise with your partner as well. The more you can explore your patterns, habits, and beliefs about money, the better your odds of becoming financially successful.
Money is neither good nor bad. It’s just money.
When we talk openly about it, it can become a force for good in our lives. When we ignore it and brush problems under the rug, it can become destructive.
If you’d like to explore this further, check out our Same $ Page course.
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