The recessions we’ve gone through in the last decade have had an enormous impact on couples. Roles are being reversed as more men are being laid off and women are becoming the main breadwinners, which creates many new issues couples have never had to deal with before. Women are becoming the breadwinners, yet at a primal level want the man to be the provider.
Men, being stripped of the role as the main provider, are feeling less useful and needed. Women are bringing home the bacon, but the men are frying it up.
We can’t assume that this shift in our culture is a non-event, or underestimate the impact it’s having on relationships between men and women. The shakeups in the world with money are huge – and I think it hasn’t even remotely begun to play out yet.
There’s nothing like a few global meltdowns to kick up the issues in our money tissues! What a great opportunity for each gender to get real and start to look money in the eyes like they never have before.
When we choose to blend our lives with another person, we bring our spending habits and views about money with us. What if you match with your partner in every other way – except with money? Stats prove that money remains the number one topic couples fight about; this doesn’t mean you and your beloved have to be included in those stats.
After conducting over 30,000 private sessions with people on the topic of love and money – know that communication is key. So let’s explore ways to make it easier to have an open conversation with each other when you’re talking about money. These tips are perfect, whether you’re in a committed relationship, about to move in together – or want to get a head start even before you meet someone!
1. Before the Money Conversation
Setting the right tone is important. Before you begin, I strongly recommend you both agree to not shame or judge each other – no matter what money realities come out of this. I also recommend you both agree if each of you cannot resolve certain (or all) aspects of your finances, you will seek out a professional. Once that’s in place, continue with the next steps.
2. The Influence of Others with Your Money
The way we treat money as an adult is heavily influenced by our backgrounds and social environments. Everything from how our own parents handled money as a couple, to the peer pressure of “keeping up with Joneses.” I recommend each of you separately reflect about how early money experiences might be impacting your current view and habits with money. Sharing your insights will create intimacy and a level playing field for both of you to work from.
3. Determine Your Money Values
What does money represent to you? Power, freedom, security, fun, sharing…? These are fundamental life values and will impact everything from the smallest decisions about what brand of kleenex you buy to major decisions like retirement. Determine what you both value and see how you can align this with your money goals.
4. Assess Your Money Personality
Are you a consistent saver – or a spender? This is not about judging yourself, it’s about being realistic. Let’s say money represents freedom for you and security for your partner, and you get a $10,000 bonus check at work. You (the spender) wants to immediately plan a trip to Italy, but your (saving) partner can’t wait to use it to top up savings. Be honest with your partner and find some middle ground.
5. Know Your Net Worth
As any successful person will tell you – you’ve got to know your numbers! This is about really looking money in the eyes and getting a clear picture of where you are at. Your net worth is basically your assets minus your liabilities. Doing this gives you a tangible number you can work with. It may not be pretty, but it’s very empowering to know where you and your money stand. Once you know your numbers, you’re in a better position to make informed decisions about debt and ways to increase your savings as a couple.