Fighting about money with your partner is the worst. Things like quitting your job, going back to school, buying a house and planning kids are major life decisions that totally affect your finances! If you and your partner aren’t on the same page, it can definitely erupt into a fight or cause a lot of stress that keeps us up at night. You both need to be tag-teaming the household finances so you can get things done. The first step to that is communicating with your partner about money.
Here are my 4 best tips on how to talk to your boo about money
Tip #1: Choose the right time to talk!
Money can be a very emotionally charged subject. Make sure everyone has had enough to eat. No low blood sugar. In addition, try not to ambush your partner out of nowhere first thing in the morning or right after work. Being tired is not a good time to talk about super stressful things. I suggest letting your partner know ahead of time that you wanna have a bit of a planning meeting to discuss ______ (house, babies, business, career etc) ahead of time. Book a time for you both. Then, go for a drive or a walk together. This way, you’re away from distractions and you can just focus on the task at hand. In addition, your partner and you have time to think about what they want out of the conversation beforehand so it’s not just raw emotions.
Tip #2: Use “WE” language.
Stay away from saying things like “I’m right”, “you’re wrong”, “If only you”. You’re in this together. Using “I”s and “You”s creates a line down the center of your financial team. Remember – you’re on the same side!! Blame and shame aren’t going to get you anywhere. You need to work together as a financial team. Have the language reflect that. “We” and “Us!”
Tip#3: Focus on the common shared goals
There’s a reason this is an important conversation. Often, common goals are to buy a house or have a baby or save for retirement. Think about why these goals are important to you both. Why are you saving for them? A great example of a fight that a client of mine told me about. Her and her partner are trying to save for a down payment. He eats lunch out every day at the office which started to build a lot of resentment between them. She would make passive aggressive comments about it being a waste and he started to hide his behavior. This is not good. Eventually, it erupted into a full-blown battle royale when she found out he went to get a burrito for lunch. Was she actually upset about the burrito? No. Not at all. It’s way more than that. Their shared common goal is to buy a home. She wants to start a family and the home feels like the first step in this journey. To her, every time her partner went out for lunch, it felt like a kick in the pants that he wasn’t taking the goal as seriously. This translates to “you’re not taking our lives together seriously”. For him, it was a burrito and he was hungry. He didn’t realize that where he was spending his money on the small little stuff was affecting the bigger picture in her mind.
All they had to do was talk about this. Once he understood why it upset her, it was way more motivating to work together. He had the opportunity to explain that he was going to make cuts in other places but still eat lunch out because it’s part of his work culture and he doesn’t have a lot of time to prep meals. But, instead of giving that up, he would cut other expenses in his budget to make up for it. So, they are still saving for the big picture but now, no one resents the other person. This is a great example of how focusing on the common shared goals works to bring the sting out of talking about money.
You’re both in this together!
Tip#4: Don’t judge your partner.
Money says everything about who we are and what’s important to us. They don’t teach this stuff in school and it’s possible you and your partner are in different financial situations. Maybe someone didn’t get financial help with school and has debt. Or, maybe one of you has been saving like crazy since you were 16. Everyone is different and that’s okay. What happened in the past has happened. Being frustrated or judging that now isn’t going to get either you anywhere. Focus on building a future together.
Make time for this in your life! You both need to make plans and execute together! A great resource is Budget With Your Boo if you’re ready to tag-team the household finances and GET THINGS DONE! It’s a great online course that can help you both ensure that you’re on the same page with your finances and give you a plan to move forward towards those big goals!