February 1, 2023
For many people, February conjures up images of romance, chocolates, and loving surprises as some celebrate Valentine’s Day. For others, the month can go by unmarked with little interest. This year, let’s turn the holiday on its head and provide a way to celebrate love that may have a lasting impact on the success of your relationship, marriage, or future relationships.
According to Marriage.com, one of the top ten reasons people get divorced or break up is money issues[i]. The issues range from different spending habits to how much to support children and grandchildren. Everyone brings their own money story and family background into relationships, and differences abound. When discussing money, it’s good to consider your past, present, and future. So here are three tips for creating a healthy perspective on money and its role in your relationships.
Tip #1: Intentionally talk about money
Look back at your past. This may sound too simplistic or naïve, but many people grew up in homes where they never saw their parents or caregivers discuss money. Parents paid bills and put food on the table, but often people saw no tangible example of how to talk about money. This can sometimes make starting conversations about money difficult. But research shows that when couples talk openly about important matters, such as money, emotional and intellectual intimacy is cultivated[ii].
Intentionally setting aside time to discuss finances, budgets, family goals, or what costs are coming up can become a positive habit that develops intimacy over time and creates positive money experiences in your relationship. At the beginning of each month, take five minutes to look at the month ahead and pick a time for both of you to discuss finances. Then stick to that time and have a conversation about spending habits or extra bills coming up. Doing this should be viewed as a vital investment into the health and well-being of your relationship or marriage.
Knowing you have set time aside to discuss finances candidly can help free up mental space to focus on other more urgent and pressing tasks while giving you the knowledge that you and your spouse are on the same page.
Tip #2: Set money goals together
Consider your present. Working together with someone is almost always more fun than working alone, especially when working towards a mutual goal. For example, setting money goals can bring both partners’ focus onto the same purpose and give extra incentive to follow a budget, find ways to reduce spending, or allocate an additional amount of money each month into a specific account. In addition, discussing goals can help each person daily make choices that support shared goals. This type of goal-sharing can bring you back into the present moment when the choice needs to be made on how to spend your money.
Goals can be big or small. As long as they are essential to each of you, they matter. Your goal can be to buy a new home, go on a big vacation, or book a yearly getaway for the two of you.[iii]. Talking about your goals and working together can help each person in the relationship feel closer and build a mutually enjoyable life.
Tip #3: Talk about retirement
Plan for the future. Plan for the future. Life gets busy with daily demands and schedules that often months, even years, fly by without couples stopping to assess their future financial state. Retirement is a dot on a map, far off in the future. Retirement may be exciting, but it also can be a little scary. Retirement is a significant life transition and deserves respectful consideration[iv]. Questions like, do we have enough to live how we want? What unexpected costs will come up, or how will I feel not going to work every day can make navigating retirement a little tricky.
Couples can help ease into a state of retirement by working with a financial advisor to understand their financial status and what that will look like in the coming years. An advisor can become a trusted resource to help you navigate this topic as you get closer to it or even if it’s years off, and work with you to make a plan that works towards creating the retirement of your dreams. Some think retirement will help ease the stress of a busy schedule or make married life easier because they have more time together. However, talking about what retirement may look like before it happens is a better way to improve your chance of a successful next chapter and be better prepared for the reality of retirement.
Navigating money and finances in relationships can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. Looking at your past and discussing it can help you find your financial blind spots. Dreaming as a couple can motivate your present financial habits and keep you moving in the same direction. Finally, sitting down and discussing what retirement means to each of you can be a way to help your future self that you will be thankful for years down the road. Emerald Advisors is here to help with each stage of financial planning and can be a valuable resource as you build healthy financial relationship habits.
[i] Chan, O. (2021, July 9). Marriage.com. How Does Money Affect Relationships? 3 Tips for Money Conflicts. [Online] Available at: How Does Money Affect Relationships? 3 Tips for Money Conflicts (marriage.com)
[ii] Johnson, M. (2019, April 16). Healthline.com. How to Understand and Build Intimacy in Every Relationship. [Online] Available at: Intimacy: 32 Things to Know About Friendships, Relationships, More (healthline.com)
[iii] Woods, J.R. (2015, July 6). Forbes.com. 10 Ways To Prevent Money From Ruining Your Marriage. [Online] Available at: 10 Ways To Prevent Money From Ruining Your Marriage (forbes.com)
[iv] (2023). Retirement.berkeley.edu. Retirement and Your Relationship. [Online] Available at: Retirement and Your Relationship | Retirement Center (berkeley.edu)