#64. Introducing The Couples' Financial Conversations & Goal Setting Worksheet
Money is often cited as one of the leading causes of stress and conflict in relationships.
It is easy to say, "As a couple you should be open and honest," but this is much harder to do in practice.
I wrote a few weeks ago about how important communication is when handling finances as a couple living together. After looking back at the article, I realized more information was needed to help with this crucial component.
I also wanted to give everyone a free worksheet to help with these conversations. It's something that will help couples have judgment-free money talks.
This article will walk through the worksheet, and I will make the actual worksheet available to everyone this upcoming Sunday.
I provided some advice in my previous article, but I wanted to share more tips now and introduce the readers to the worksheet.
Both Partners Are Responsible For Creating A Safe Space
Part 1 of the worksheet deals with scheduling these money talks and establishing ground rules.
Creating a safe space for financial discussions is the first step in open communication. Actually scheduling regular "money talks" with your partner and establishing ground rules ahead of time during these conversations works wonders.
Establishing these ground rules when you both are in a positive place instead of during the moment should be your goal.
Remember, everyone has different experiences and feelings when it comes to money, so be patient and compassionate with each other. One partner may hate the stock market because their parents lost money picking stocks and the other partner may see it as a valuable investment tool.
Understand, people have rational reasons behind their beliefs. So, do not just assume your partner is irrational because they have a completely different view on money.
If you want to learn more about the psychology behind a person's view of money, I suggest reading the Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel (I have recommended it multiple times in previous posts).
Additionally, sometimes, emotional aspects of money, such as feelings of shame or embarrassment, will hurt effective financial communication. Acknowledge these emotions and work together to overcome them.
During these money talks, share your financial values, priorities, and expectations with each other to build trust and establish boundaries.
Understanding Each Other's Financial Habits
Understanding and accepting each other's financial habits is crucial for having a financial life together.
Assess your individual spending and saving tendencies in Part 2 and discuss your personal financial histories and experiences. This will give you insights into why you and your partner approach money the way you do.
It is okay if one partner is a penny pincher and the other partner is not. Being open about these differences and discussing ways to make them work is the key.
Not knowing these tendencies can lead to a lot of unhealthy resentment towards your partner that is built up beneath the surface.
Setting Mutual Financial Goals
Once you've scheduled these money talks and opened up the lines of communication, it's time to set shared financial goals.
Part 3 is about identifying short-term and long-term objectives, such as building an emergency fund, paying off debt, buying a home, or planning for retirement.
Do step 3 separately at first. Determine what you value as the most important money goals for you both.
Then, share these goals with each other and discuss shared goals. Make sure to write down shared goals using separate paper!
As you complete these goals, celebrate your financial milestones together, recognizing achievements and progress. This not only helps maintain motivation towards your joint goals but also strengthens your bond as a couple.
Create a Joint Action Plan
In Part 4, together, develop a joint action plan that allocates resources towards these shared goals and monitors progress. If you need extra paper, do not be boxed in by the number of lines on the paper.
Grab that extra paper!
This is where things should start to get a little fun. A plan could be as simple as investing 15% of each paycheck per month in a mutual fund, or it could be more complex and detail plans to start your own business.
These goals and joint action plans are meant to be revisited, so do not be afraid to be aspirational. If things need to be adjusted after a couple of months, adjust them.
Too many plans fail because of not being able to stick to a strict routine. However, I am here to tell you this awesome tidbit - if you "fail" a plan, just adjust the plan and keep going.
There is no need to scrap an entire goal/plan because of one or two missteps.
The Long Game
Trust and transparency are what you should be striving for to build a strong financial partnership.
Over time, you should be aiming to share complete financial information, including assets, debts, and credit scores, and maintain open access to joint accounts.
Establish shared financial responsibilities, clarifying each person's role in managing money and holding each other accountable.
Continuously evaluate and adjust your financial plans, holding regular check-ins and progress updates. Be prepared to adapt your approach to changing financial circumstances and evolving goals.
I'll leave you with this.
Healthy financial conversations are essential for couples to navigate the complexities of money management in a relationship.
Having different money goals is completely normal. I am not sure whether two people exist on the planet that have the same exact money goals. Making sure to have the same goals should NOT be our number one priority.
By prioritizing open communication and understanding financial habits, you can build a strong financial foundation together.
Remember that it's okay to find these conversations challenging, and it's normal to feel vulnerable when discussing such personal matters. Approach these discussions with empathy, understanding, and a commitment to work through any difficulties together.
I will be sending the free Couples' Financial Conversations & Goal Setting Worksheet to all current subscribers. All future readers will have instant access to this free worksheet when subscribing after April 30, 2023!
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