Love and (talking about) Money

It’s a quiet evening, Chris and I are sharing glasses of wine and take-out from one of our favorite restaurants.  Seated close together at the kitchen table, we compare notes on the papers we have spread out in front of us. We’re deep in conversation, sometimes laughing, sometimes serious, sometimes even disagreeing. Once we’re finished, we pack the papers away, feeling connected, informed, and aligned.

We’ve been talking money.

Or more accurately, we’ve been reviewing our financial situation, plans, and goals, which includes more than just money; it’s the business of being married and taking care of a family.

How do YOU handle love and money?

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="370" caption="By Evan-Amos via Wikimedia Commons"][/caption]Last week, 4word Board member Erin Botsford shared some advicefor long-term financial planning, so this week I thought we’d continue the money discussion with a look at the interplay between finances and relationships. And this is NOT a conversation limited to the already-committed.  If you are dating, or considering dating potential future mates, money—or really, the handling of money—is something you should be paying attention to.

It’s not that your guy needs to be rich enough—or rich at all. But rather that you and he can someday compatibly manage joint finances and communicate effectively about money. Don’t take this lightly, it can be REALLY HARD to do well.

This is one of those things that seems easy until you actually have to do it. We all have certain assumptions about money, saving, investing, and spending. Even if you’ve never put them into words, you’ve developed a comfort level with spending a certain portion of your pay check each month- and so has he, and his might be DRASTICALLY different from yours.

Arguments about money — not sex or household chores — are what couples between the ages of 18 and 40 fight over the most, according to Focus on the Family and a 2007 survey by Investment News. In fact, money is such a troublesome issue that 82 percent of survey respondents admitted to having hidden shopping bags and various purchases from their spouse.

When you start hiding and stop communicating, you’re headed for trouble.

Where to start?

Make time for money talk, and set some basic rules. Be honest and forgiving (that one can be especially important) with one another, and work towards manageable goals. Don’t worry if it feels awkward or frustrating at first, this kind of thing takes practice.  Keep conversations from getting contentious by remembering that more than anything, this is a discussion among partners, and not an inquisition. Don't hesitate to seek help, there are some good resources here. It’s worth it to put in the time and effort into getting it right; this is one investment you won’t regret.