Eternal love conquering all is a pretty embedded idea in our culture, so it’s easy to assume it’s true. But in reality, once the flush of a new relationship wears off, life happens and things can get tough sometimes. One particular area that can cause stress is money, with finances often cited as a reason for divorces.
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A lot of relationship trouble can be avoided if both parties talk about finances before mixing money together, as unromantic as that may sound. If you think you can’t tackle the conversation now, remember that it is only going to become more difficult if you wait, as your finances will be more mixed together over time.
Try the following five tips to start the financial conversation with your partner off on the right foot!
1. Get It Going
Don’t wait until you are engaged or married to talk about money. If you can’t tackle this topic together now, it won’t suddenly become easier once you are more committed. Tell your partner what you see, how it affects you, and what you want to change.
For instance, if your partner spends a lot of money on luxury purchases, you can say you’ve noticed he or she is spending at a rate that is making you nervous about your shared financial stability, and you would like to work together to make a budget you both can live with.
Don’t accuse your partner of wasting money or make them feel bad. The object here is to share your concerns and find a solution together.
2. Sort Out Spending
Spending should fall under three categories: yours, your partner’s, and both. Neither of you will be happy or comfortable if you’re never allowed to spend some money on your own without permission.
Decide who is going to pay what and how much of any leftover funds can be spent freely by each of you. Agree on a personal spending “limit,” with any purchases over that amount requiring discussion beforehand. Anything below the spending limit is fair game!
3. Appreciate What Your Partner Brings
It’s easy to get frustrated by your partner’s spending habits if they are more frugal or a spendthrift when compared to you. But when you’re only seeing some of your partner’s qualities in a negative light, it can color your entire perception of them as a person.
This can lead to misunderstandings, misinterpretations and arguments that don’t need to happen. It’s very easy to misread things once you’re already frustrated with another person.
Try to look at what your partner brings to the table in a more understanding way. For example, if your partner is frugal and you enjoy spending, consider that their nature can help prepare you as a couple to buy your first home or a better car.
If you’re the frugal one and they like to buy things, try to appreciate some of the fun stuff you received or got to do because of your partner’s more carefree approach to finances. Use the differences between the two of you to create a balance instead of a wedge when it comes to your finances.
Point out the positives your partner contributes while acknowledging your own weak spots, so you can find a middle ground.
4. Pinpoint Your Values
A lot of financial disputes between couples come from where money is being spent and not how much. Both of you need to identify your top three values and work from there to minimize disagreements over what you should be spending your cash on.
Even if you and your partner have vastly different spending patterns, it will become easier to navigate your shared finances if you both care about the same things. For instance, if a new house is important to the both of you, you’ll find saving for it won’t be as difficult once you and your partner realize you’re on the same page together.
5. Ask Yourself An Important Question
You’ll need to decide if the relationship is worth it if your partner isn’t going to change their spending habits. Essentially, if you’re already struggling to accept the way your finances are going to be once you and your partner co-mingle funds, because of their patterns, it’s a red flag.
You can’t control someone else or make them change for you, so if you can’t work together to get your finances to a place you can accept, you might need to consider moving on.