Couples & Money: We’re in this Together

How many times have you purchased something and thrown out the bags or boxes before your significant other gets home? How many have a credit card that has a higher balance than what you shared with your partner?  Or even a credit card they have no idea exists! Maybe even a secret stash of cash?

I know I have been guilty of at least the first one! The conversation goes something like this… Him: “Oh that’s nice. Is it new?” Me: This? It’s old!”

It’s seemingly a small white lie, and not even really a lie at all, just withholding of truth, right?

Wrong. It’s actually called Financial Infidelity.

I’ve come to realize with age, that if we keep those small items a secret from our partner, then what other financial dirty laundry are we hiding?  And believe me when I say this, women are NOT the only culprits.

So why do we do this?

It’s amazing that we have a list of wants when searching for a partner; tall (or short) dark, handsome, pretty, smart, and the list goes on and on.  But how many of us actually list financially savvy, or financially committed, or financially anything as a preference?

I strongly believe that this is part of the reason why we find ourselves in this independent thinking and behavior around money.  We enter into relationships and marriages without ever as much as considering what money means to us as individuals, let alone as a couple.

What is our money story and what is our partners’ money story?   Maybe our partner had a parent that was a frivolous spender?  Maybe we had a parent that was a steadfast saver? Those differences do help influence how we behave with our finances.

Couples fight about money twice as much as they fight about sex! In fact, it starts well before we say “I do”.

What can we do BEFORE things get serious?

Communication:

It’s the old adage, “Communication is key”. Knowing what you’re getting into will help you get through most financial challenges.  Maintaining an open dialogue around money is healthy.  Start with easier topics like your long term financial goals and work toward more sensitive ones like debts, assets and credit histories. Agree to ALWAYS tell the truth.

Clarity: 

What’s THE MONEY STORY? Getting clear is imperative. Are we both savers and/or spenders? How has this story impacted what our truth is? It’s not just about money, it’s about values.

What exactly does each person bring to the union? Do we both work?  Will one of us stay at home? Is there debt and if so, how much? Will we continue to operate independently or will we work to eliminate this debt together?  There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to combining income and liabilities, but you must have clarity around what it entails.

Create a plan:

Once you’ve shared your goals and balance sheets you can work on putting together a plan as a couple. It can be as straight forward as setting up a new joint account or emergency fund or as complex as figuring out how you will make spending decisions going forward or if you should both interview a financial advisor.  The point is that you do this together and with transparency.

Creating a financial plan with a partner can be frustrating and feel like hard work, but working on your future Empire can actually be a rewarding way to bond with your honey.

 

To learn more about financial planning call us at 212.344.5867 or visit www.divinewealthwise.com