Nothing is harder than pulling in different directions and it is something that, if left, can build tensions in relationships – nowhere more so than with money.
Every time I’m with friends and the conversation moves round to money one half of a couple shares their exasperation with how the other spends money or thinks about money. We are on a journey just like you but we are moving in the right direction and more important the same direction now. These 3 tips have helped us massively in communicating about money constructively.
a weekly 15 minute conversation with ones partner.
This is a concept I stole from a conversation with a friend who stole it from someone else and it has been a massive help to us. Initially this started as a “where are you and what are you doing for the next 14 days” so I wouldn’t head off to another part of the country on business for 3 days forgetting to tell my wife I was going. We also created a family gmail account with synced calendar so family events can be added to each others diary simply.
What we also do now on sync nights is to quickly touch base on the budget and where things are up to this month and note any changes or anything that needs adding to our “Needs” lists. This means we are both up to speed with how the month is going and where the budget is at.
2. Needs Lists
a list of all the stuff we need to buy as a family
Families cost money. The Hampster needs a bigger cage, the kids need new coats, I need a heart rate monitor for my training, wife needs new make-up……. The Needs List is a rolling list of things that we need to purchase as a family. It works a little like a Someday Maybe List for those of you familiar with GTD. Basically we went through a period where I felt bombarded with thing we ‘urgently’ needed to buy and I was forgetting or feeling like there was no sense of how much was being spent on stuff. Then I would go buy something for myself or take us out for a family meal out only to be dragged in to a shop afterwards expected to buy a new coat having known nothing about this need or perhaps it having been mentioned in passing a week earlier. The Needs List sits on Evernote and we review it each month when we do our budget and decide what is a priority and what isn’t.
3.History and Wine
time spent understanding how we grew up with money
I had a different upbringing to my wife. Say What?!?! It seems stupid to actually verbalize it so many of our values and ideals are similar that to actually talk about our upbringing and family history around money is very revealing. I find wine infinitely helps relax the atmosphere but finding out her earliest memories of money and who budgeted and who didn’t in her family. What her parents saw as a priority financially and taught her about money was very different to me. This is deep in our subconscious and influences everything from our attitude to debt, to saving and even to the morals of money. Talking openly and deeply lead to some suprising insights into our relationship with money and approach to making and managing money.
A great example is the way my parents don’t budget together, my dad takes all the burden of planning their finances to the extent that he is exasperated with her. When I shared this with my wife we both realised how my pre-disposition is to mirror my father in shouldering that burden and get exapserated at her – history just repeating itself. We have since taken action to plot a course we want and work better as team.
Let me know if you have another great tips for getting on the same page with your partners!