What happens when you and your partner have different approaches toward money?
It's a common scenario. One is the spender, one is the saver.
One person seemingly knows where every earned dollar goes, while the other is a carefree spirit who thrives on spontaneous decisions and purchases.
The other one loves fine dining and thinks nothing of splurging $200 on haute cuisine, while the other is happy with pizza and would rather spend that money on their work wardrobe. And on it goes.
Money is personal. We all have our own ideas of how we think about it, spend it, save it and try to earn it. But, when you're sharing so much of your life with another person, it's inevitable that your individual approaches toward money will sometimes clash.
How do you bring up this loaded topic without it spiraling into a heated argument?
1. Make a Date
Make it a time when you both can completely focus on the topic without distractions. Let them know you'd like to talk about money and, together, choose a time and place that works for both of you.
2. Gather Your thoughts
There's no need to rehearse what you want to say, but it is important to prepare a mental list of topics you'd like to discuss. Include the basics, like budgeting, saving and sharing living expenses, along with any specific issues that are bothering you or that you'd like to change.
3. Visualize Your Goals
Don't jumpstart the discussion with accusatory statements like: "Do you realize you bought seven pairs of shoes this month?" or even, "I think we should stop eating out so often."
Talking about future goals will set a positive tone for your conversation before you get into the nitty-gritty details. Making plans for vacations, a new home, even retirement can put everyone in a good motivational mood!
4. Attach Cash Value to Those Goals
Now that you've shared your goals and dreams, you can start talking numbers. How much would it really cost to spend a one month vacation in Europe? How much would we need to save for that dream house in our desired neighborhood? How much will we need in our 401(k) accounts to retire comfortably, while living in our oceanfront condo?
5. Make a Game Plan
You've got your numbers; now work out the plan!
Together with your partner, create a reasonable savings plan that will help you reach your shared goal. If you're saving for a vacation, to buy a new house or any other dream, work out how much money you'd need to put away each month, and how long it would take to reach your goal.
6. Build a Budget
You're ready to turn that dream into a reality. But first, you both may need to trim some of the spending. Here's where you can gently discuss specific ways to cut back. Don't point fingers; give your partner the chance to admit to their own shortcomings and be honest about your own vices.
Together, work out a monthly budget that accounts for all of your expenses and your new savings goal.
If you want to create a detailed budget, now's a good time to get started. You'll need to begin tracking all your expenses for the next three months so you have a clear idea of your expenditures and income.
You can easily create a budget using a personal finance app or just do it the old fashioned way, using a pen and a paper. Your online banking account with Genisys has a nice budgeting tool built in as well.
Having a clear idea of where your money is going will make you a disciplined spender and a bigger saver. Determine things that you can or should not spend money on and commit to cutting them out.
7. Discuss Money Management
If you aren't already sharing some expenses, now's the time to bring it up. There are no hard rules here; every couple has their own system. But, if you're living together, it makes sense to split some basic costs, like rent and food supplies. You may want to go 50/50 on this or make another arrangement that better suits your individual incomes.
Consider linking one of your accounts or opening a shared account at Genisys. We've got our new Genius Checking and a great Savings Products to suit every preference.
However you choose to manage your joint finances, be sure to keep at least one credit card open in your own name. It's important to establish your own credit history independent of your partner's. Otherwise, qualifying for later loans can be challenging due to a limited personal credit history.
8. Work with Each Other’s Strengths
When dividing financial responsibilities, assign appropriate tasks that play to each partner's strengths. Is your partner a stickler for dates and deadlines? Have them assume responsibility for paying the bills on time.
Are you a numbers freak? You might want to be in charge of managing your joint investments.
Is your partner the savvy and thrifty shopper? Let them do the grocery shopping while you split the costs.
However you divide up the tasks, it’s important to routinely review what each of you are doing together. Avoid leaving each other unprepared and in the dark about your financial situation.
Congrats! You've made it through the big money talk without any major fireworks! Now go and make those dreams happen!
© Genisys Credit Union and www.genisyscu.org, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Genisys Credit Union and www.genisyscu.org with appropriate and specific direction to the original content