I like Excel sheets. If there is any decision that involves numbers I will create a spreadsheet to make that decision. (Sorry nerd alert) When you learn to use excel effectively you can make your life easier, so why don’t more people use Excel?
This is what comes to mind when I sit down with my wife to review the finances. Most of the time the conversation falls on me to direct and coach how the budget and money looks in a specific month. What is my natural tendency? Bust out the Excel sheet and lets review!
In my wife’s head, the conversation goes something like this … Lauren this is how much we spent, you spent too much here here and here. I spent too much here. She nods and agrees to help spend less this next month. Problem solved right?
How we communicate especially about finances can steer the relationship we have with our significant others, in major ways. It starts by first having that open communication. Men inherently take on the leadership role and thus, take over the finances, although I know some women who take this role on.
I don’t have all the answers or have it all figured out. This though, is what I have learned so far.
Start the communciation on an open playing field
No judgement and no restrictions. You should be having a conversation about how you would like to spend your money. This means writing down how much you make a month and listing all the necessary expenses. By doing so this will lead you to your discretionary budget. For example, if you have $300 left over in discretionary spending, discuss how you each would like to spend that money. Remember, both of your opinions count.
Use these questions to help each other discover what’s important in your life. How would you spend money if you didn’t have to work? Or, if money wasn’t an issue what could you see yourself doing? What do you both enjoy doing on weekends, or with your free time?
This is something that each of you have to develop. How you see your life, retirement spending and the rest of the important life decisions. If neither of you have goals how do you know what each other’s are? My wife knows I want my own financial planning firm, while she wants to be an SLP as part of a practice. She doesn’t want her own buisness, which is fine. But by understanding our individual goals we can work together to help each other achieve those goals.
Waiting makes things worse
Don’t wait to have these important conversations. If you are mad about someone spending too much on shopping or video games, call them out, but do it lovingly. By reviewing the budget together, you can bring up the goals that you both previously set and how this overspending is not helping you to drive towards this goal. Ask how you can help. For example, if your significant other says they have issues spending when they visit the mall alone, can you go with them? Can you give your significant other perspective when they are second guessing themselves?
It’s okay if you don’t like spreadsheets. In fact my wife hates them. But she knows they work for me. It’s not about trying to be right. It’s about coming together for the mutual goal of communicating clearly about where you are and where you want to be financially. There is nothing better than both of you meeting your financial goals individually and together.
What are some of the best ways you and your significant other have communciated about finances? Any tips?