Relationships are hard work. Bloody hard (just ask Kimmy K who only managed 72 days – sorry Kim)! The statistics around divorce these days are scary and the fact is, we can’t hide from them. My parents are divorced, my husband’s parents are divorced, and what used to be the exception is now the norm. And it totally sucks. My question is, how many of these break-ups were due to the ugly money chats? How many of these couples could put their hands up and say, “most of our fights were related to money”? Even if they don’t admit it, it’s hard to ignore the pull that money has on our lives and our relationships. It might not buy happiness, but it certainly helps!
So, I’m putting on my counsellor hat (totally not qualified) and going to give you some tips on learning to love your financial situation –
Talk about it – Simple right?
Because I’m so determined to make my relationship the exception and not the rule, BD and I are not afraid to talk about money. It doesn’t have to be this dirty word or taboo conversation. For God sake, talk about it! Melissa Meagher from ‘Talking Money’ says we should put time aside to TALK about money with our partners. How many of us have been in an argument, that’s quickly escalating, and go straight for the jugular… “Well, YOU spent THIS much on that new ridiculous (and kinda ugly) motorbike”? Taking time to talk about your cashlings will you give the opportunity to talk about your money goals and concerns on a reasonably sane level. Try to keep your blood pressure within a normal range and you can trust that the conversation will be productive!
As a self-confessed-OCD-Type-A character, I knew that talking about money with my Hubs would be hard. Not because we’re in an excessive amount of debt but because I would want full control. On the flipside, it would be really refreshing to have someone take care of my cash flow and manage the investments! But I just couldn’t do that. For us, we try to have little money meetings where it’s an open and safe space to talk about how much we have, what we want to do with it and what bills are looming. For a while there, our money-moments were combined with our wedding chats and that started to get kinda draining. Wishing we considered the eloping option! Needless to say we didn’t so for us, the chats were more important than ever. A wine may be an appropriate accompaniment in these situations.
Finding the happy-financial-medium
It’s OK not to have the same goals, but the key is getting this out in the open at the beginning. We both came into the relationship with very particular goals about money and respected our independent financial decisions. Up until recently (like less than 12 months ago) we even kept our accounts completely separate. This might not be for everyone but it worked for us. There’s no point going head first into a relationship, and in our case, a long distance relationship, to then become 1 all at once. By having our own accounts meant that I wasn’t judged for being OCD and BD can still feel like he has some form of control as well. We now have 2 shared accounts, but still have our own individual accounts where our salaries are paid into. And this works perfectly for us.
Now here’s the biggie – trust
Trust is a must. Some of us really struggle with this one but it really is the crux of all marriage or partnership breakdowns. Think about it. Cheating – trust, gambling – trust, anything to do with your offspring – trust. If you don’t trust your partner with money from the beginning, you’re looking at a pretty relentless uphill battle. Probably a bit out of my scope of talents too, so I’ll stop commenting on this one.
Related: Over the last few weeks, the word Bitcoin has slowly consumed the little time that falls between ‘pillow talk’ and my deep-REM-dribble. What is it about this crypto-thing that has attracted the deep pockets of men all across the world and intrigued every millennial who has ever sat behind a screen?
If you’re still not sure what you should be talking about, I’ve put together some key topics that may help you and your lover boy or girl:
- Spending: “Do you really need that dress?” is probably a comment most of us are used to hearing. It’s important that you come to an agreement on what you both think is ‘appropriate’ spending. As a general rule, anything from 5-10% of your income should be put aside as your ‘play’ money. IF you have credit card debt, or ANY debt then this will be dramatically less!
- Saving: Everyone is different but if you’re on opposite pages when it comes to savings, you’re in trouble. Have the chat and find out now. Try to save between 20 – 30% of your income per month. If you can put away more, DO IT!
- Investments: Some would prefer to spend then save and others can’t see more than 1 month ahead of them. If you’re planning on building your wealth now, whilst your partner is looking for their next night out, you might need to talk about that. Similarly, if you want to invest in shares and your partner wants to only do bricks and mortar, then again, I suggest you have a chat.
- Insurance: This is a whole different animal with many different layers. I’m not a financial planner and don’t specialise in insurance but apparently there are a few things you need to consider – personal, health, life, trauma, house, car and even pet insurance. Wills are also on the top of this list but that’s a whole other blog!
What I’ve learnt is that money doesn’t have to be the bad guy or the dirty conversation that no one wants to have. You might find that talking about it now will save you a lot of heartache in the future.
Get talking Y’all!