Valentine’s Day is approaching and the air is thick with the elegant scent of roses, romantic sentiments whispered between lovers, the ethereal notes of a lone violin...
Those sweet notes can quickly turn to sour grapes for couples with conflicting approaches to handling money. Usually, “it’s a case of one being a saver and the other a spender,” explains FPA member H. Jude Boudreaux, CFP®, founder of Upperline Financial Planning in New Orleans, La.
But take heart, couples. The following steps can help keep money issues from spoiling that loving feeling:
Communicate! Check whatever baggage you have at the door, then talk openly with your partner about the reasons behind your differences. Be candid without being hurtful, and jointly resolve to talk regularly about money issues. “Having those small discussions will help prevent big blow-outs,” says Boudreaux.
Find common ground. Instead of dwelling on your differences over money, identify the expectations and aspirations — buying a vacation home, sending a child to college, etc. — you share with your sweetheart. Let those goals guide your financial decisions and behavior. “It’s important to have a shared vision of what’s important,” asserts Boudreaux. “Having long-term goals encourages people to change their habits.”
Do the math. As fodder for your money discussions, track household income and expenses over the course of a month. Those numbers will make for better-informed decisions.
Be methodical instead of emotional. Separate your “money selves” from your “sweetheart selves.” Remember that it was love — not money — that brought you together in the first place.
Agree to disagree. On certain points, some couples may never agree. What’s important is settling on a money management approach that accommodates the saver’s priorities as well as the spender’s. One approach that some financial planners recommend is to give each spouse a budgeted allotment and the discretion to spend it or save it, as they see fit.
Enlist an expert. You and your loved one’s finances are very important, and you should trust them only to an experienced and trusted financial planner. No one is better qualified to help couples work through money issues, set goals and put a plan in place for attaining them.