Published on 02-06-2020
One of the best things you can do for your marriage is to create a financial system together that reflects your goals, priorities, and values.
It’s easier said than done, though. For many married couples, money can be an incredible source of stress.
You, though, can jumpstart your marriage and money, by syncing up. Not sure where to start? Here are a few ways you can start talking about money while keeping the tension low!
This may seem counter intuitive, but one of the first things you should do to improve your finances is…..not talk about money.
At least not at first.
One reason why you may want to temporarily bypass the numbers and instead focus on dreams or goals is that you’re trying to find what motivates you and your spouse.
I found out about this approach from Carl Richards, a certified financial planner and also a NY Times Columnist.
As a planner, he’s seen how stressful going over things like the budget can be for couples. It can be difficult and even awkward to open up about our spending.
What he suggested is that when you look at your expenses, instead of focusing on how much you or your spouse spent, ask yourselves, ‘did we get value from it? How much?’
Sounds a bit Marie Kondo, but the key here is that you are trying to define your priorities and values.
After all, money isn’t the goal. It’s really about time. Sure, you need to take care of the essential bills, but most people I talk to really want to have to option to spend more time with the people and projects they love.
You can’t do that until you’re clear on what they are, both as individuals and as a couple. So next time you look at your spending, try this approach.
Once you’ve established and agreed on the goals you want to tackle, now it’s time to dive into the numbers.
Where you are now financially? What assets and debts do you have? You can log into your accounts, use an app, a spreadsheet, pen and paper - however you like - but just get clear picture of your finances.
When you know where you want to go and where you are now, you can create a spending plan, aka budget.
And if you really want to lighten your load, automate your finances.
My husband and I have done that years ago with our checking and savings accounts and it has been wonderful, especially when things get busy (as they tend to do with two young kids).
As we hit our goals (or a hurdle, because that’s life), we simplify take a minute, maybe two to adjust things online. Boom, it’s done!
Setting up your bill pay, transfers, and contributions may take just a bit of time upfront, but afterwards, you’ve freed yourselves up quite a bit.
You’ve done much of the hard part, but you still want to keep finances a part of your conversation.
Going on regular money dates can be a low key way for you two to talk about money without starting a fight. With money dates, the goal is to review how things are going with your finances and lives.
Are you saving up for a vacation? Talk about your plans when you get there (along with how much you’d like to spend on those extra activities.
Are you two trying to pay off the credit cards? Celebrate your wins and see if there is anything you need to adjust in your budget.
As these conversations become a part of your routine, the stress can decrease because you’re beginning to see money for what it could be - a tool to help you design a life you love together.
You can have mini dates at home, or go out once a month (or whatever your schedule is) to enjoy some time together.
I hope these conversation starters help make these chats about money less stressful and more productive.
Please take some time in the next few weeks to work through the steps and build a financial system that reflects you both!
If you’re looking for some assistance with setting up accounts, going over your plans (and finances), you should also consider reaching out to the wealth management team at Coastal1.
They’re happy to work with you in creating a plan that fits your goals and money management style.
Elle Martinez is the creator of Couple Money, a personal finance podcast and site focused on helping couples get on the same page, dump their debt faster, start building wealth together
1Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services, L.P. (“CFS”), a registered broker-dealer (Member FINRA/SIPC) and SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Products offered through CFS; are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union, and may involve investment risk including possible loss of principal. Investment Representatives are registered through CFS. Coastal Credit Union has contracted with CFS to make non-deposit investment products and services available to credit union members.