By now most women know that having the financial talk before you get married is vital to an open and honest marriage. But talking about money shouldn’t be a one-time phenomenon. People’s goals change over time, and assuming you’re both on the same page is a mistake.
So how frequently should couples talk about their financial goals? Experts weigh in on how to have these conversations in a way that translates into action and unity. In many cases, you may even find regular financial check-ins help to strengthen your relationship.
Setting Up the Conversation’s Framework
Talking about money with your partner might seem difficult or uncomfortable no matter how long you’ve been together. Regardless of how you share your finances with your partner, it’s not just a matter of figuring out who spends what. Instead, the focus of the conversation should be about what you both want to do with your lives, and how money can help you achieve those things.
Even if you’ve been stuck in a certain financial routine for years, switching up how you talk about money as a couple can change not just the way you save and spend, but also the way you live.
“In the financial world, it’s only your actions that you can control, and actions tied to a purpose are the only ones that tend to be acted on,” says John Girouard, president and CEO of CAPITAL Asset Management Group. Setting goals together gives you a common reason to save on some things so you can achieve others.
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What to Talk About
You probably have a wide variety of financial goals, from granular saving to long-term visions. While you and your partner might be on the same wavelength of putting your extra pennies towards a summer beach vacation, you may not be as aligned when it comes to everything else.
Girouard recommends that couples independently write down goals in the following categories:
- Tangible assets
- Community (both today and retirement)
- Professional career
You might be surprised at what comes up on each other’s list. Not only that, but when you work independently, you’re given free reign to truly think about your own life goals and verbalize them to your partner.
Together, you can then compare your answers to hash out your financial priorities together. “Whether it is in sports, business or life, only the successful teams start off with a shared vision of what they want to achieve. Why should relationships be any different?” asks Girouard.
With a joint game plan, it’s possible to figure out the details of how to achieve each of those dreams, whether it’s over the next several months or the next several years.
How to Follow Up
Once you have your big picture goals settled, how do you hold each other accountable? Meredith Moore, founder and CEO of Artisan Financial Strategies, recommends three different types of check-ins to implement your annual plan, starting with a weekly money conversation.
“Couples should talk at least weekly about their financial goals. The ideal way to do this is to establish an ongoing cadence,” Moore says. From there, schedule a monthly review of your total spending and your investment accounts. Each quarter, look at your mid-term and long-term goals to see if you’re on track or if you need to make any adjustments to your savings or timeline.
Set yourself up for success by keeping a regular schedule and handling these conversations like any other important appointment. Consider creating actual recurring calendar items so you both know when to anticipate a check-in, especially the less frequent ones.
However, you can’t keep these meetings strictly business, or you run the risk of passing judgment on each other’s actions and causing hurt feelings. You’re a team, not individual competitors, so look for ways to support each other in achieving your common goals.
Moore recommends adding a level of fun to potentially difficult conversations. “As you run your meetings, consider enjoying a bottle of wine together,” she says. After all, what says romance more than budgets and pinot?
Even if you and your partner don’t hit every monetary goal on time or in full, being honest and transparent with each other brings a much greater level of intimacy. Not only will you feel more secure in your finances, you’ll also enjoy a better sense of security by fully trusting one another.
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