Money Talks

Money, and talk­ing or not talk­ing about it, can make or break a re­la­tion­ship

Maxx-brides Honeymoon - - Tips - Text by Fran Lee

We’ve all had ar­gu­ments about money with our part­ners. As with any re­la­tion­ship is­sue, we deal with such con­flicts in a va­ri­ety of ways. Some of us pre­fer to thrash things out and reach some sort of com­pro­mise, while oth­ers try to keep the peace by giv­ing in grudg­ingly. Oth­ers sim­ply give up, be­liev­ing there is no pos­si­ble res­o­lu­tion, and vow never again to broach the sub­ject.

Yet, sweep­ing money is­sues un­der the car­pet is not the wis­est way to deal with them. Mak­ing the sit­u­a­tion even more com­plex is that many of us were brought up to be­lieve that money is a taboo sub­ject and find it dif­fi­cult to have a se­ri­ous dis­cus­sion about fi­nances.

The only way for cou­ples to be­gin feel­ing se­cure about their fi­nan­cial fu­tures is to start plan­ning and talk­ing. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion is the key, and plan­ning a fi­nan­cial fu­ture to­gether means hav­ing to ad­dress is­sues like life­style and fi­nan­cial goals, and mak­ing de­ci­sions about the way you budget, save and in­vest.

Where do you want to go?

Plan­ning for the fu­ture is a lot like plan­ning for a va­ca­tion. If you take it for granted or as­sume your spouse has sim­i­lar re­tire­ment goals as yourself, you may be in for a rude sur­prise. One per­son’s pic­ture of re­tire­ment par­adise -– reg­u­lar ad­ven­ture trips around the world, for in­stance -– may be the other’s idea of re­tire­ment pur­ga­tory.

It is im­por­tant for a cou­ple is to sit down to­gether and dis­cuss their goals to en­sure they are both trav­el­ling on the same path. Cou­ples need to talk openly and hon­estly and map out how they are go­ing to achieve their goals fi­nan­cially, in­stead of leav­ing it all to one per­son to deal with.

How do you get there?

Once you have fig­ured out to­gether where you’re headed, be it a stream of golf hol­i­days or own­ing an idyl­lic piece of property in an­other coun­try, you can de­ter­mine how to get there -– how work­ing to­gether you will save and in­vest to­wards ful­fill­ing these goals. Some help­ful start­ing points that can pave the way for mean­ing­ful con­ver­sa­tions about money in­clude:

Ac­knowl­edge your dif­fer­ent money per­son­al­i­ties

Our money per­son­al­i­ties shape our at­ti­tudes to­wards money and how we spend and save. While one party may be good at sav­ing, the other may place more value on im­me­di­ate grat­i­fi­ca­tion and pre­fer to spend in the present. Some may see bud­gets as a nec­es­sary means of con­trol­ling spend­ing ex­cesses, while to oth­ers ‘budget’ is a bad word. With a bit of com­pro­mise you can make the most of your dif­fer­ent money habits. If, un­like your part­ner, you are de­tailed and or­gan­ised, you can take charge of en­sur­ing the bills are paid on time and man­ag­ing the fam­ily budget. How­ever, make sure your part­ner is aware of their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to en­sure you are both on track.

Set a budget

The main source of many fi­nan­cial dis­agree­ments be­tween cou­ples is per­sonal spend­ing. Set­ting a budget can help smooth things out, es­pe­cially once both par­ties have sorted out how much of their in­comes should go to­wards house­hold ex­penses, as well as to a sav­ings and in­vest­ment plan.

While joint ac­counts can fos­ter unity and trust, they can also be a cause of con­tention, es­pe­cially when two people have dif­fer­ent fi­nan­cial ca­pa­bil­i­ties and per­son­al­i­ties. Per­sonal fi­nance guru and au­thor Suze Or­man stresses that cou­ples should re­tain their in­di­vid­ual fi­nan­cial iden­ti­ties while striv­ing for fi­nan­cial in­ti­macy.

To that end, con­sider open­ing a joint check­ing ac­count for house­hold ex­penses and big-ticket items like hol­i­days or home ren­o­va­tions. De­ter­mine how much each party should con­trib­ute to the joint ac­count each month. The rest of your salaries can go to sep­a­rate ac­counts in your own names. Make a pact that any­thing in these ac­counts is a nag-free zone – so you are free to save it or spend it on your hi-tech gad­gets and boys toys, and she on her shoes and bags. But do set a limit on how much each of you can splurge on yourself each month.

Have reg­u­lar re­views

Ev­ery six months, sit down to­gether and run through the fam­ily fi­nances to en­sure you are on track. Take into ac­count any changes that may af­fect your sav­ings and in­vest­ment strate­gies, or your in­sur­ance poli­cies and wills. Do­ing this to­gether helps both par­ties un­der­stand this is a team ef­fort. And if any­thing should hap­pen to one of you, at least the other knows where all the im­por­tant documents and as­sets are.

We all dream of an idyl­lic fu­ture with our part­ners, but the re­al­ity is that not com­mu­ni­cat­ing now about what this fu­ture en­com­passes, or how you plan to re­alise it, is not go­ing to help make it hap­pen. It can also make you feel fi­nan­cially in­se­cure and un­cer­tain about the fu­ture.

Be­cause you want to be pre­pared when re­tire­ment rolls around, set­ting fi­nan­cial and life­style goals to­gether, as well as putting in place a sav­ings and in­vest­ment plan through which you will re­alise these goals, is best done now. While money is­sues are of­ten a touchy sub­ject, they can be tack­led if cou­ples agree to es­tab­lish open lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion -- keep­ing an open mind to­wards the other’s money per­son­al­ity and an eye to­wards a bright fi­nan­cial fu­ture ahead.

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