Who’s Steering Your Finances?

There is a Turkish proverb that says, “Two captains will sink a ship”. I’m not Turkish, but this is advice well heeded for just about anything. It’s particularly relevant to couples trying to manage finances.

We always hear that one of the biggest sources of tension between couples is money. I won’t go into explanations. We all know the reasons: He’s a spender, she’s a saver—whatever, let’s spare the finger pointing. The real tricks to managing daily finances with another person are to talk openly without blame and to define roles. This, like everything else in a relationship, is easier said.

Opening the discussion about money should come first and frequently. The key to successfully discussing money is to remove emotion and judgment. And, don’t try to cover the entire gamut at once. Take the discussion(s) in stages. You might even make them weekly topics. Here are some ideas for small topics, in order:
1) Make sure that you both know your shared accounts.
2) Discuss shared goals, i.e., buy a house in two years.
3) Financial Roles (more on this below)
4) Establish a budget

Once you open the topic of finances, keep the momentum going by being brutally honest in your financial ability. Decide which of you is most comfortable taking the lead in the money management. If both you and your partner have a strong hold on finances one of you may take the role of future planning while the other manages the day-to-day money. It’s typically easier if only one person is responsible for paying the bills. This same person should keep an eye on the everyday money flow to ensure that you are staying on budget.

Neither person in the relationship should close their mind to concept of managing the shared finances. If you think that money management just “isn’t your thing”, suck it up and make it your thing. If you blindly leave all the money issues to another person, you are setting yourself up for potential disaster. If you are the person who handles most of the money tasks, be sure your partner knows how to access information in case you are not available.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to continue to discuss money and to do it without blame. If things are going well, be sure to show your appreciation to your partner for doing their part. If things aren’t going well, maybe it’s time to review your roles or adjust your goals. Cultivating your financial relationship can only strengthen your romantic relationship.

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