Let’s face it most people don’t like speaking about money. It’s about as taboo as speaking about sex. Even with our spouses it can be difficult to bring up the topic of money and budget. Many couples stress about money and would like to speak about their family plan for their budget and wealth but they just don’t know how to start a conversation without it turning into a fight. Sound familiar?
For all the stress around money it is amazing the amount of peace that can come from sitting down for just 20 or 30 minutes to go over where you are financially, where you are spending your money and what you need to do to improve.
A little communication about money can prevent the little fights that irrupt around over-spending or living paycheck to paycheck.
But how do you start this conversation? Here are a few steps you can use to have a conversation with your spouse about money.
Set a time to speak about money and make it fun
The reality is that most conversation about money involve a fight. “Did you really spend $100 at the mall yesterday?” or “Why did you buy those tickets to the football game?” These are not the best situation to speak about money. The best time to speak about money is when you set aside a time free from other distractions to review your finances.
Tell your spouse that you would like to go out for dinner or a coffee and go over your finances. My wife and I like to have a glass of wine or two and go over how we are doing. If you are going over it for the first time, or the first time in long time, get a sitter to watch the kids and go out on a Money Date.
The key is to invite your spouse to spend some time dedicated to just this topic.
Focus on listening to your spouse
Once you have the time set aside begin by asking your spouse how they feel you are doing financially as a couple. Make sure to listen and don’t jump in to accuse or disagree. Practice active listening and try to understand where your spouse is coming from. Make sure to repeat back what you hear and let your spouse know that you have heard them and understand.
Talk about goals that you share as a couple or family
Talk about the wealth goals that you share in common. Maybe it is the desire to buy a house or go on a vacation or pay down student loans. Share your personal goals with your spouse and ask for them to share theirs. If you have not set goals as a couple now is a good time (click here to download a simple goal format that you can use).
If you have not shared something about your finances (debt or bad spending habits) now is the time to get this off your chest. Honesty is the first step to improving your wealth. You will feel better and will gain peace by being financially honest with you spouse. If you spouse shares something, don’t get upset. Accept it as the first step to improving.
Bring in a third party
Sometimes it is difficult to have this conversation with your spouse. If it helps you can bring in a third party to help. It could be a trusted friend or an advisor that can help both of you to get on the same page financially. This is especially helpful if you have never shared or organized your finances as a couple.
Agree to have a money date at least once a month
This is a great time to make the commitment to have a monthly money date to go over your finances. The money date can be a time where you review your financial goals and budget. If you have not yet created a budget here is a resource you can use to get you started New Parent Financial Toolkit.
By setting aside time to speak to your spouse about money you will use finances to bring you closer together as a couple instead of allowing money to be a wedge that drives you apart.