A lot of people feel that money is generally an awkward topic to talk about, especially with your spouse. Be it our culture, fear of judgment, or the lack of trust it could imply, we seem to be treading on eggshells when it comes to talking about finances. And while all of this may be the case, the bigger mistake though is NOT talking about it. But what is the purpose of having a money talk anyway? Think big picture. Besides the actual discussion of finances, it’s also for the improvement of your overall communication with your spouse. In the end, you want a more open, trusting, and loving marriage. So where do we start? Check out some of our tips below!
Set a regular date where you and your partner can sit down and discuss your finances. Try to have it at least once a month, and make the topic neutral, logging it on your calendar as “Team YOURMARRIEDNAME Monthly Budget Meeting” or something similar, to approach it lightly. Say, every second Saturday of the month? Setting a date prepares you both mentally for what you’re about to discuss. Most fights about money erupt because one person feels attacked out of the blue. Don’t talk about money when one or both of you are tired from work or emotionally compromised.
To make your money date something you’ll both look forward to, incorporate elements that the two of you enjoy. For example, have pizza and wine on hand, or talk it over a tub of your favorite ice cream. You can also choose to have it at your go to coffeeshop. Or simply ask your partner to suggest a ritual he’d like to have, as it is gonna be a regular couple thing moving forward.
So you’ve set the date, you’re both comfortable, now what do you talk about? Keynote Speaker Simon Sinek, in his famous TED Talk said that to inspire action (not demand, beg, or persuade), you start with WHY. 40% of people, especially men in particular, are visual learners. Paint your spouse a mental picture of why you’re having a money date to begin with. Start with a short term goal–it could be something as simple as this month’s bills paid in a timely manner, or a mid term goal like a vacation you want to take in a few months.
The reason money feels awkward to talk about is because of our deep-rooted beliefs around it, aka our money values. For example, Black Eyed Peas member Apl de Ap opened a Jollibee Franchise in his hometown. While to most of us, the notion of having our own Jollibee seems nice, to him, it’s a lifelong dream come true. You see, when he was a young boy, whenever Apl pointed to Jollibee, his mom would sadly refuse, saying they couldn’t afford it. This gives you an idea why this investment was so important to him. Find out each other’s money values, acknowledge your emotions, and understand where both of you are coming from.
To reach your common goal, what do you need to do, who does what, and by when? You can use the Keep/Stop/Start model as a reference. KEEP would be a list of things you’re already doing right. You both are aware of what you must continue to do and appreciate each other for. STOP would be the counterproductive practices that set you back. This isn’t for you to call out your spouse for his spending habits or vice versa. Treat all behaviours as collective. START would be the tangible, accountable, next steps. To help get you started, assign these tasks a deadline to keep you both accountable.
Remember that this is not a Marriage Finances 101 test that you can either pass or fail, but an ongoing process of cultivating healthy habits in the context of your relationship. If you budget great one month, then slip up the next, don’t beat yourselves up about it–just take note of how to do better next time. With the right approach, you could even enjoy this. Hope this helps!