Do you and your spouse ever talk about… money?
Sad, but true: statistics show that among couples who separate, money issues are a critical factor up to 90% of the time. And yet, any good psychologist will tell you that most couples would rather talk about anything – even sex problems!– rather than discuss their finances.
The thing is, money tends to highlight the differences between individuals. We each have our own way of planning for the future we envision, and this affects how we spend, save and invest. Are you easy-going about money or do you worry all the time? Do your spouse’s spendthrift (or tightwad) ways drive you crazy? Were you saving for a vacation only to find that your partner decided to buy a new home entertainment system instead? Do the two of you truly share the same financial goals?
These kinds of things come up more often than you might think, and can create tension that eventually leads to financial problems. The solution? Open, ongoing dialogue. Here are a few tips to help make it easier to approach this touchy subject.
• Make time to talk about money – Make “dates” with your spouse to talk about money. Don’t avoid the subject or let yourselves go off on tangents.
• Be prepared – Take it seriously. Beforehand, think about what you want to discuss and assemble the necessary documents: your financial balance sheet (assets, debts), your household budget, a statement of income and expenses, your credit reports, if any. Your financial services professional can recommend some practical tools to help you with this.
• Be honest – Have you secretly always wanted to start a business? Is your number one priority the education of your children – from your previous marriage? Or is it your own retirement? Being specific about your dreams will make it easier to decide how to achieve them. Together. Or at least, at the same time…
• Keep it civil – You might discover differences – and differences of opinion – that you never suspected. Listen to each other and try to be understanding. Have your discussions in an environment where you both feel free to speak frankly and, if necessary, have a neutral third party, such as your financial services professional, on hand to help you look at things objectively.
• Take notes – A written record of what you talked about, along with the associated documents, will help you keep track and measure the progress you make together.
When all is said and done, it isn’t always easy for a couple to talk about money… but with the right attitude, a willingness to compromise and, if necessary, some outside help, it’s not the end of the world, either!
(Guest article provided by Barry Coleman, Financial Advisor with Desjardins Financial Security. email@example.com / www.dfsin.ca)