If it doesn’t come about naturally, discussing finances with your partner is seldom easy. But if you’re moving past the flirty phase and into a space of becoming a strong, unified couple, broaching the ‘taboo’ subject can be highly beneficial.
It could be that you’re the partner in the relationship ready to tackle some hefty financial goals, while your other half is happy to bury their head in the sand. So, to help you get things flowing, we asked a few of our expert financial advisers to provide their tips and strategies to help you get your partner on board, and work together when it comes to your finances.
Where to start?
A common objection to engaging in conversations around finances is that sometimes it’s hard to talk about money. Money is complex and emotional, or your partner just might not be interested. Not everyone is interested in the finer details, and for many, ignorance is bliss. enable.me coach Elizabeth Blake mentions, “motivation in these discussions often comes from imagining a bigger or longer-term goal rather than getting lost in the minutiae of how much you should be spending on beersies”.
So, find a goal that excites you both, whether saving for your first home, early retirement, or even a yearlong sabbatical overseas. Focusing on a mutual goal and allowing your partner to understand what’s possible for you both – without boring them with the smaller details – can be a great motivator to get them to engage.
What about partners with vastly different spending habits?
While different spending habits and money personalities can add to the challenge, couples can still work together when they have big milestones to achieve, even if their money personalities clash. Elizabeth says, “Partners with different money personalities can still thrive together. It’s important that you have a shared goal and a plan, and you know what each needs to bring in order to get you started on your plan and ultimately to achieve it”.
When different money personalities come into the mix, it pays to understand where your partner is coming from and the underlying cause for avoiding discussions around money. If you’re a saver but your partner is a shopper, for example, your partner might be avoiding the topic because they’re afraid of being controlled over their spending habits. Elizabeth suggests, “One way around this is to use ‘I-Statements’ to help your loved one feel safe, such as ‘I feel we could achieve great things financially if we put our heads together. Can we chat about creating a plan?”.
“What we actually find is that, as long as individual needs are met (everyone has their non-negotiables), and the plan is agile, the fear about loss of control and being judged dissipates and can be re-directed into empowered decision making.” Elizabeth adds.
It’s also good to try to avoid ‘You-Statements’ as this can imply blame, for example, ‘you always overspend’ or ‘you never want to talk about this’. When someone feels blamed or attacked, it can cause them to shut down or even trigger an emotional response meaning they’re less likely to engage in ways to make financial progress.
enable.me coach Shelley Palman suggests you “give your partner advance notice that you would like to set aside some time to discuss your finances and have a bit of a health check. Don’t ambush them. Avoid bringing up finances in anger or when you are both feeling stressed. You could say, ‘We have a mortgage rolling over in two weeks. Can we talk about this, and our finances in general, this weekend so we can decide what to do?’. Then they aren’t on the back foot.”
Communication is key
Engaging in constructive financial conversations boils down to solid communication channels and opening them up as early as possible in the relationship. But it’s not too late if you’re a few years into the relationship already. While not discussing finances can create a breeding ground for resentment and friction in a partnership, talking about your goals and getting on the same page about how your money can help you achieve this can help strengthen your relationship.
Working with a financial coach can be highly beneficial in this process. Your coach becomes a neutral third party that can help facilitate open and honest discussion and remove some of the emotion that’s often involved when people talk about their personal financial circumstances. In her client sessions, Elizabeth mentions, “Shoppers feel heard and understand how changes in spending behaviour can result in game changing progress, while savers find satisfaction in saving more than they thought possible. The risk for savers is that they will miss out on wealth creation opportunities. So, there is always a fine balance.”
And while it’s understandable to be hesitant about trusting a stranger to help you with your finances, they can identify opportunities you may have overlooked that will help you get to where you want to be faster.
Discussing finances with your loved one can seem daunting, but it’s a crucial aspect of becoming a strong, unified partnership that tackles hefty yet exciting financial goals. Opening up these lines of communication can help you get aligned on what you want to work towards financially and can lead you to a healthier financial relationship and a more prosperous financial future.
If you need an extra helping hand to help shift the needle towards your financial goals – book a consultation with an enable.me financial adviser and coach. They can help facilitate open discussions for you and your partner in a safe space, so you can work towards achieving your financial goals together.
Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute individual financial advice. If you’re interested in receiving financial advice, you can book a consultation with an enable.me coach. Costs apply.