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Did you know that money is one of the leading cause of arguments in married couples? Of course you did, because if you’re reading this, chances are you’re in one of those relationships that finds talking about money about as exciting as going to the dentist…
But… when you think about it, it’s easy to understand why we have such big issues when we start to bring money into relationships.
Everyone has their own money mindset. This is formed from an early age based on your first experiences around money, what you’re taught about money (or not taught in many cases) and how you approach your own money.
Essentially, all of your financial experiences come together to formulate your money mindset.
Which means, when you and your partner start dating, you already have years of money mindset already created…
And then, you join forces as such, open a joint bank account… and somehow just expect that you’ll both be on the same page financially…
Can you see what’s missing here?
It’s okay to have different approaches to money. It’s okay to have different money mindsets. But where conflict arises, is when you cannot talk about or respect the other persons approach and subsequently their experiences with money.
You don’t have to agree with their money mindset, but arguing about it isn’t going to change it either. You have to work together to start creating a new money mindset, a new approach to money, that is formulated with both of your financial experiences in mind, and helps you achieve your financial goals.
So how do you get started if all you’ve done is argue about money?
You tackle these key areas:
1 – Your Expectations
99% of problems in marriages can all be boiled down to one key issue: unmet expectations (by the way, that’s not a real stat, don’t quote me on it, the point is it’s pretty much all problems).
Think about it… lack of communication = unmet expectation of talking, feeling like you’re not a priority = unmet expectation of being a priority, infidelity = unmet expectation of exclusivity, financial arguments = unmet expectation of financial arrangements.
And while it might not necessarily be your role to meet your partner’s expectations, it IS your role (both of you) to communicate your expectations.
Because if you don’t, there’s no way either of you can meet each other’s expectations at all.
For example, do you expect that all bills are paid as soon as they are received, or do you expect that they’re paid on the due date?
Do you expect to have a certain amount of money in savings? Do you expect to have an emergency fund or do you keep a credit card for an emergency (please don’t do that)? Do you expect to pay cash for buying a car, or do you expect to get one on credit?
Do you expect to be able to stay at home once you have kids and be supported financially by your spouse? Or do you expect to return to work and keep your career and share the running of the household equally?
Can you see how many simple little things all come with their own expectations and how, if you don’t talk about them and communicate your expectations, they can turn into arguments and points of contention?
Start talking about your expectations. It might be uncomfortable at first, but it sure beats the alternative.
2 – Your Income
Do you have a complete understanding of your income? I’m not talking about paycheck to paycheck. I’m talking about every cent that comes into your accounts and where it all comes from.
The first step to understanding your finances (which you both need to do if you want to stop arguing about money), is to understand your income.
Keep in mind, this isn’t something you just do once.
When you open up the lines of communication around money, the only way to keep them open is to keep talking about it. Have regular check ins, chat about your money often, and soon it will be as easy as talking about what you had for lunch.
3 – Your Expenses
Do you know how much your lifestyle actually costs you? Sure, you might know how much your mortgage payments are, or how much your coffee each day costs… but it’s often the little things that add up quickly.
So, you know your income, and now it’s time to work out if your income supports and covers your expenses.
Often arguments in relationships are around expenses. One person may spend more frivolously than the other. Maybe one may think they should be able to buy what they want because they work hard for it. Or maybe one just has no idea about how their expenses are impacting the budget.
Any of these sound familiar?
When it comes to being able to talk about your finances, transparency is key. Being open and honest, about money coming in and money going out means you’re both going to be on the same page.
4 – Your Financial Goals
Did you notice that ‘Your Financial Goals’ is ahead of ‘Your Budget’? That’s because your financial goals are a major part of your budget, and knowing what you want to achieve financially is so darn important.
Do you want to buy a house? Maybe start an investment? Do you want to have enough savings to go on a big holiday once a year? Or do you have a savings goal in mind? Do you want to have enough put away to pay for your kids to go to College? Or do you want to simply put a set amount of money aside each week to have regular date nights?
Whatever your financial goals are, you will achieve them by working towards them together and including them in your budget.
Talking about your financial goals is exciting too! Dream of your amazing life together, and then make it happen.
5 – Your Budget
I used to think that budgets were just for people who couldn’t manage their money properly. And then I realised every successful business has a budget. And that if we wanted to be successful with our finances, then we needed to start treating them a little more like a budget.
Working out your budget is super simple:
Take your income, then work out how much you need to budget for your financial goals, and then make room for your expenses. If it all doesn’t add up, tweak your expenses (or the timeline for your goal), until it works for you.
Then stick to it.
Have regular budget check-ins (we have one every two weeks), account for all expenses, and remember – transparency is key.
When we argue about money in relationships, it’s because of unmet expectations. The only way to stop arguing about money is to talk about our expectations and get on the same page as each other. So get talking.