Having combined finances can help you and your partner reach your money goals together but can also cause tension if you aren’t on the same page financially. If you’re struggling with different spending habits, read on for tips on how to make your money work for both of you – without straining your relationship.
Be Honest About Your Financial Status
Too often, people are ashamed of their financial situation and may hold back important information. Opening up to your partner about your finances is a key step in making sure you’re both on the same page. Surprises down the road can lead to resentment or break down trust. Have an honest conversation with each other. If you or your partner start to feel stressed or overwhelmed during your chat, take a break, and come back to the conversation with a clear head.
Talk About Your Money Values
Our spending habits are often impacted by our childhood. If you grew up without much money, you may be more inclined to be thrifty or not know how to properly manage your funds. If you were more fortunate, you may not have learned how to budget, or you may want to maintain that lifestyle for yourself as an adult.
In addition to sharing your perspectives on money with each other, you should discuss how you think money should be spent. Some individuals prioritize lavish gifts and vacations while others prefer to live a more modest lifestyle. Understanding each other’s point of view can go a long way in building a better financial future together.
Create a Budget
Schedule time to sit down together and create a budget. It’s important for each person to have a clear understanding of your household finances. Having a budget doesn’t mean you need to painstakingly track every cent. Use this opportunity to create a budget that works for both of you. Some ideas include:
- Only using cash for expenses so you don’t go over budget
- Splitting expenses into categories – like the 50/30/20 rule
- Allocating “fun” money for each of you every month so your personal purchases aren’t impacting your joint bills
Once you have a budget in place, be sure to schedule time to check in together and make sure you’re on track – whether that’s weekly, monthly, or quarterly.
Learn to Compromise
Having an all-or-nothing approach to finances can lead to tension in a relationship. To build a successful financial foundation together, you’ll each need to compromise. If one of you likes dinners out but the other prefers to save money by cooking at home, designate one night a week for a meal out or use this opportunity to create more elaborate, restaurant-quality meals at home as a couple.
Be sure to discuss larger purchases, too. Talk through how you’ll spend money on vehicles, the holidays, and other big expenses. If one person prefers new cars but the other is comfortable driving an older vehicle, come to an agreement on how much you’d each be willing to spend on a new vehicle or how often you’re comfortable with upgrading your car. Come to an agreement together on how you’ll manage these purchases. When the time comes for a large purchase, you’ll already have a plan on how to handle it together.
Focus on Shared Goals
While you may have different perspectives on money, chances are you both share similar goals. Discuss what they are and write them down. When putting together your budget, be sure to add in your joint goals and compromise on how much to allocate to each one. By planning for shared goals, you can both focus on values that you agree on – instead of your differences.
By tackling tough money conversations in your relationship, you can focus on the fun – being a couple. For more tips on money management, visit our WalletWorks page.