So you think you found your soulmate. You dance to the same tunes, you enjoy watching the same genre of movies, and you both love eating the most exotic foods while having discussions about what flavors and spices you think the chef used to prepare your dish (or maybe that’s just me). In every way, it just seems like you two are perfect for each other.
As time progresses and things are getting more serious, you realize your soulmate is not as responsible with money as you would like them to be. I mean it was cute when they were spending their last and cashing out on you while you were dating. Also, when they spent a majority of their paychecks on buying designer clothes so they could look good for you and trying to impress you while they were living with their five roommates.
You may have overlooked many things because you were too busy getting swept off your feet. Before you know it, your lives have merged, and when you awake from the spell you were under, you realize now you are living together (and possibly married) and their financial behaviors have gone unchanged.
Here are 12 tips on how to make your love & money work:
1.) Set a good example
Be the financial person you want them to become. You don’t have to be a supersaver or have all the answers to any financial issue that comes your way, but make sure you have good intentions on providing better financial decisions for your household. This could be making sure you don’t make purchases on impulse, shopping around for the best deals, using cash for purchases, and saving money. Your spouse/partner will notice and eventually will follow the path you set.
2.) Save more of your income
Make sure you are stashing away more cash and investing more to your retirement to compensate for what your spouse/partner is not doing. This is especially good if you do not combine your finances in a checking and/or savings account. What good would it be if your spouse/partner was not able to retire with you while you travel the world? Retirement is more exciting if you have someone to share your time with!
3.) Set the budget together
Make this at least a monthly event. Set aside a consistent date and time (such as the 1st of each month at 7pm) to go over how well you did last month on sticking to the budget and what expenses should be coming up for this month. This is a good time for each of you to make suggestions to the budget ranging from replacing a microwave to a weekend getaway.
4.) Have an allowance
Yes, this may sound like we are children but please don’t look at it like that. Imagine having a plan for every dollar coming into the household. There is money set aside to take care of all the household expenses, money set aside to save and build wealth, and now there is an allowance set aside to spend on whatever you desire. Who knows, your spouse/partner may choose to spend their allowance on you this month.
5.) Praise your spouse/partner
Whenever you see your spouse/partner make a decision that was financially responsible, make sure they know that didn’t go unnoticed. From things like when you notice they stopped using their credit card as much to noticing they are buying store brands to save money (we are all for store brands). Make sure you give constant praise because positive reinforcement & encouraging more good money saving habits from your spouse/partner will make them feel good.
6.) Don’t nag
There’s nothing worse than knowing you are about to be nagged at for purchasing something with your hard earned money that you worked 40+ hours this week to buy. Some people even hide their purchases in the trunk of their car to avoid confrontation. Put yourself in their shoes to try to understand this concept when you go to nag. The purchase is done and over with. The transaction already occurred. It may or may not be returnable. Just remind them of how important it is for open communication for purchases when it comes to the bigger financial picture. When people feel they have to hide purchases and they work as hard as you to bring in money, that is not a good situation to be in.
7.) Have conversations
Be transparent when it comes to money with your partner and discuss your views on money to find a common ground. Have conversations about where you see yourself financially 5, 10, 20 years from now and see how your money views match up. You may find that your views do not match up at first, but you could make your partner realize they need to step up their money goals to better align with yours. This could make them strive harder to make sure you as a couple reach these milestones.
8.) Be honest
If anyone is coming into a relationship with any amount of debt, let your spouse/partner know so they can identify what to adjust so they could help. Keeping secrets about finances can be harmful because a relationship should be built off of trust. There are so many ways you and your spouse/partner can brainstorm about how to generate more money to pay off debt. It’s not the end of the world.
9.) Combine finances
Now, I know some of you are not too comfortable combining finances. Especially, if you are not married yet, but we are not talking about going all in. Start with having a joint account for the household expenses for the rent/mortgage, utilities, groceries, date nights, or even a savings account for vacations. This shows each of you that you are committed to having discipline for using the money for only what it is designated for.
10.) Makes plans for purchases
When couples have things to look forward to, that makes saving for it that much more fun. Make plans for things like kitchen upgrades, furniture purchases, and home improvements. Imagine being able to enjoy all of these things and they are fully paid for without taking on more debt. When you are able to spend cash, you and your spouse/partner will feel a sense of accomplishment every time you walk into your home.
11.) Don’t criticize
This is an important one. Remember that we are all unique and you will find many people may not have the same views on money as you do; especially your spouse/partner. It may take some people a little longer to understand the importance of financial security so don’t fault them because you understand quicker than they do. Love and support them through the process.
12.) Have fun
Life is a journey. Enjoy the love, good times and the laughter. As time progresses, you will learn more about how to navigate through your finances together through experience. Your spouse/partner should respect the fact that you are trying to make it better financially for your future together. When there is true love, all things will work out. Even differences in your money mindsets. Besides, opposites attract and remember why you are together. Love conquers all.
1 Corinthians 13: 4-8
Written by: Ashley