Women, money and style: The truth is, very few couples look forward to discussing their finances. The reality is, the couples that save together stay together.
Follow these five steps for a happy financial marriage
The truth is, very few couples look forward to discussing their finances. The reality is, the couples that save together stay together. So in the spirit of Ramadan, I am sharing with you my take on the no-stress way to talk about finances with your partner.
Usually, money is the cause of a lot of worry for at least one partner. This comes down to past mistakes, or beliefs formed in childhood, or bad experiences regarding money. The best way to get over this is to talk about your experiences, let them go and then make your team plan. Work out what you both value (want) for yourselves as a couple and your futures, then live true to these values.
Where do we start?
The first thing you need to do is change the energy around the topic of money. While family economics is often a difficult subject, it shouldn't be. Agree with your partner that you will both be truly open and honest with each other about all financial expenses in your lives. After all, that's what you are working towards.
Schedule a time to talk
Just like all other habits, you can't get into the good habit of having mature financial discussions without making them a part of your routine.
There are many ways you can develop a schedule. Consider marking your calendar on your payday to ensure that both of you know how much of your salary will be going into your savings account (paying yourself first) and how the remaining money will be put towards bills, utilities, entertainment and other expenses.
If payday occurs every week and your financial situation isn't urgent enough for you to have discussions on a weekly basis, then choose a day once a month that will make sense. Talking about your finances on the day you pay bills means that there won't be any surprises the next time you view your bank accounts.
By paying and discussing your bills together, neither of you will have to feel defensive, since it will feel like a natural conversation to have.
Plan every meeting
After you and your partner have settled on a specific time to discuss your finances, you'll need to plan exactly what you want to talk about. A great starting point is to list all of your income then all of your monthly expenses. Then identify your savings goals. If you have noticed a certain problem concerning your partner's spending habits, make sure to treat the conversation with care.
Having a game plan before your financial meeting will mean that both of you will have time to decide what you want to talk about before sitting down to discuss your finances. Fighting or blaming each other will accomplish nothing - instead, go back to your goals and affirm your commitment to them.
Share your goals
As with every other part of your relationship, both of you need to be true to yourselves in both money and life. Withholding any information can lead to a major crisis in case of an emergency.
It's fine if only one of you is in charge of handling your finances on a daily basis, especially if you are in a single-income household. However, both of you should plan your long-term goals together.
No matter what your financial goals are, it's important to make sure both of you are working towards what you what. Desiring something, such as new furniture, is useless if you don't share those dreams with your partner.
Couples that are not on the same page can identify this early. Some women have told me that this saved their lives as they went on to meet their perfect partner and didn't waste years with the wrong person.
Liz, a good friend of mine, confessed: "I don't want to talk finances with my partner, because I am in debt and therefore undesirable." I urged her to sit down with a financial planner and go through the numbers together. She felt it would make or break her relationship and I agreed. One month later, Liz was engaged.
So keep it real and reap the rewards.
Celebrate your victories
Act as one another's cheerleaders and supporters. When you clear a debt that had been piling up for years, congratulate each other.
Treat reaching new financial goals the same way you treat other personal goals in your relationship, with gratitude for each other's hard work. Then when you have enough extra money saved up, reward yourselves with a purchase or activity that you can both enjoy.
While these tips may seem like common sense, putting them into action is what makes the difference. In life I find that your financial circumstances are moving all the time, so the one constant you can bet on is your partner being on the same page.
Janelle Malone is a wealth commentator, writer and author. You can read her blog at www.womenmoneyandstyle.com