Are your money beliefs stressing out your partner? Surely, if your partner’s money beliefs were troubling you, you would know.
Most of us have attitudes about money that are different from our partner’s. Many of our partner’s differences once may have been a source of attraction; but, left unattended, different beliefs about money can lead to frustration and conflict.
To avoid driving each other crazy over money, I recommend exploring your beliefs and sharing them with your partner. Doing so can have significant benefits.
As a client told me recently: “Now that I know money means freedom to me and security to Dan, I know it’s important for me to communicate before spending.”
This realization alone has helped this couple move from conflict to harmony. If you are ready to engage your partner about your money beliefs, this exercise will help both of you clarify your attitudes and share them with one another. With pen and paper in hand, spend about an hour of quiet time answering these seven questions for yourself.
1. When you think about money, what words come to mind?
2. If you found $20 in your coat pocket, what would you do with it?
3. Who or what has influenced your financial decisions?
4. When you think about how you handle money, what patterns do you see?
5. What financial advice do you remember getting?
6. Who is your financial role model?
7. Who can you compare yourself to when it comes to attitudes about money?
Spend some time reflecting on your answers, then complete this sentence: Money means _______ to me. This statement should capture your overall view. It may not be true in every situation, and you may be able to identify contradictory examples, but it should be easy for you to agree that it’s largely true.
Now, ask your partner to answer the same questions. Then, set aside time together to share your answers. Be open and honest. There are no right or wrong answers here. With your money beliefs out in the open, what’s next? It’s time to build a financial plan that honors each other’s beliefs.
Tell your partner what you need to be satisfied financially. That may be some monthly spending money that doesn’t have to be accounted for. It may be automated savings. The possibilities are endless. What’s important is satisfying the need driven by your money beliefs.
Next, develop a budget that moves you and your partner toward a common goal. That may be paying off a specific debt, saving for a trip or financing a home-improvement project. (Remember to be realistic. Account for basic necessities, debts and obligations, saving for less-than-monthly expenses and money for some nice-to-have items.)
Finally, spend with integrity. Make sure your spending aligns with what you and your partner value. By knowing and honoring each other’s money beliefs, you and your partner can stop driving each other crazy and work as a team.
Matt.Kelly.firstname.lastname@example.org. Durango resident and personal finance coach Matt Kelly owns Momentum: Personal Finance. www.personalfinancecoaching.com.