Relationships can be tricky, but when you throw in money, they can get really complicated.
SunTrust had found money to be a huge stress with married couples, and about 35% said it was the leading topic they fought about. Something else that caught my eye was 63% of couples feel that their spouse overspends.
Ok, so if money can be a huge source of tension and there is a significant segment that feels like there is a spending problem, then the logical conclusion is that more couples need to talk about money. This may sound like a logical idea, but the reality is that many of us aren’t doing this.
A big factor is that while we know we should talk about money, we don’t exactly know how to do it. How do you actually start the conversations? How do you open up about money without opening a can of worms?
From our personal experience and after doing over 200 episodes interviewing financial experts and couples who’ve done extraordinary things together (like getting out of six figures out of debt or retiring early), I’ve discovered a few keys to making things click. The five key things to use are:
1. Start with Your Goals and Dreams
I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but jumping into the finances usually backfires. A better way to approach it is by focusing on where you are going.
Set aside an afternoon or evening to sit down, relax, and start dreaming about what you want to do together by the end of this year, in a few years, and maybe a huge life goal you want to try out.
2. Plan Your Finances Like an Epic Trip
Here is where you guys begin to look at the numbers. The trick is you now have a goal to compare your finances with and it’s something you’re both excited about.
Imagine the two of you are planning an awesome trip out of the country. What would you do? Most likely you’d look at the cost of travel, hotels (or an Airbnb), food, and some fun activities. The next step is you would see what you already have in your in your account and you two would create a savings plan for your trip. It’s the same with your goals.
You need to get a ballpark of what it would cost to reach your goal and then you would see where you are now. Once you have those two pieces you can then work out a budget.
3. Play to Your Strengths with Money
There’s a good chance you and your significant other have different approaches when it comes to money. That can be a good thing! The key is making sure with your money plan you’re each playing to your strengths. Maybe one of you is pretty good with the day to day stuff, so that’s who’s in charge of bill pay or creating the initial budget.
The other may be great for getting bargains and selling things. Awesome, you can start a side hustle flipping items you buy at yard sales or clearance sales and getting a great price on eBay or Amazon.
4. Automate Your Plan and Have Money Dates
Here’s where things tie altogether (and help you two stay on the same page). Go ahead and automate as much as you can for paying bills, savings, investing, and whatever you need for your shared goals. Having the tedious stuff handled frees you up to look at the big picture.
Stay on top of your finances once a week or month with money dates. These are low key ways to stay in the loop with each other and make sure money is not a wedge, but a way to achieve your dreams.
5. Working as a Team
We’re just a regular couple, but using these principles has helped us pay off over $30,000 in debt and start our journey towards financial independence.
I share more details on money dates and tips on how to reach your dreams like becoming debt free, buying a house, and retiring early in my book Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money.
Thoughts on Working Together with Money
I shared my take; love to get yours. How often do you two talk about money? What are some of the goals you’re working on together? Ever wonder where you truly stand financially? Sure, you can get your credit score, but that is only part of the picture…not a holistic view of your financial health.
Now you can use Turbo, a free (yes, free!) financial health app that brings together your verified IRS-filed income, credit score, and debt-to-income ratio: the three key numbers that matter most to your financial health, so you know where you truly stand financially.
For each of the three numbers, you get the “whys” behind it, key takeaways, and comparisons to people like you. Turbo also gives you customized advice and insights so you can begin to better understand your financial picture. Whether you are looking to save money, secure a loan, pay for college or buy a house, Turbo gives you the tools you need to make financial decisions with confidence so you can get closer to your financial goals.
You can find Turbo at MyTurbo.com and in the Apple App Store (coming soon for Android in Google Play). And if you are a TurboTax customer, when you finish your taxes this year you can choose to effortlessly transfer your tax return information into Turbo, bringing together your tax & credit report data to give you a more complete picture of your income, debt, credit score, and more – in one place.