Five Tips on How to Discuss Finances with Your Better Half

There's no reason not to get ahead of the curve and start discussing finances before marriage or cohabitation. Try to get a sense of how the other person approaches money." What are their attitudes toward money? What are yours? What did your parents teach you about spending, saving, philanthropy? These are my personal experiences and dealings with the sometimes less romantic topic but it gets easier when there's open communication in a relationship. You both have to understand that part of sharing your life with someone includes not just living together but sharing financial responsibility in one way or the other. That also means a little bit of your financial independence has to go out the door (aaahem...ladies) but that's a topic for another time. 

1. Use effective communication skills.

If you disagree with financial choices your partner has made, refrain from pointing a finger (e.g., "Why in the world would you do something like that?"). Instead, ask for understanding in a supportive, non-judgmental manner (e.g., "Help me understand how this debt accumulated.").

2. Spending habits.

You will want to know the manner in which your partner approaches budgets and spending. Does your partner spend his/her entire paycheck each month, or does he/she save? Does your partner mainly spend money only on necessities, or does he or she also spend money on luxuries? How does your partner's style jive with your own?

{Image Souce: Article from Pop Sugar,  10 Things Financially Savvy People Don't D o}

{Image Souce: Article from Pop Sugar, 10 Things Financially Savvy People Don't Do}

3.  Financial  styles.

For example, do you pay bills as soon as they are received, whereas your partner pays them right before the deadline? Is your checkbook diligently balanced, whereas your partner's is a very rough approximation of what he or she thinks is in the checking account? Do you contribute the minimum to retirement, whereas your partner takes full advantage of his or her employer's matching plan?

4. Budgeting

Budgeting can be the tool that you use to create a plan with you and your partner. It can make your financial goals possible and be a roadmap by which you achieve them. Create a wealth board. I know it sounds silly but it's encouraging. The strong feelings that visuals trigger actually help you achieve your goals. I religiously put this into practice for clients with every design project so I figured why not use it for our personal life goals. So put that magazine clipping of Bora Bora on the wall and plan how to afford it. 

{Image Source:  Style Me Pretty, The Vault }

5. Who will be in charge?

Determine who will handle day to day finances like budgeting and bills and who will be in charge of long term finances. Maybe a rotating schedule will work for you. Maybe one of you is much better at being organized  and keeping track of things. Simply put, decide proactively who is going to manage the money. If both of you manage your finances together, set up times where you go over your finances to make sure you're on the same page. 

One final note... 

Trust is the foundation on which relationships are built. And whether you like it or not you will have to use money in your relationship. So start having these conversations with your spouse or soon-to be now. You don't have to approach these conversations as a negative. Create your financial goals together with a mindset that you have a certain amount of money, and you get to choose how you want to use it. Apply this approach to your monthly spending as well as your investing funds to live from an empowering place of choice, not lack. 

 Want more ore financial advice? Read Suze Ornan's 5 Ultimate Money Tips from Ebony magazine. 

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