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Saturday, July 13, 2024

5 ways to improve your financial relationship

5 ways to improve your financial relationship

06.30.2023

Money and love can be messy. That’s a big reason why many people try to keep the two topics separate.

Of course, strong relationships have both romantic and financial components, and they’re often intertwined. That’s why I sat down with an expert to mitigate some of the messiness of money and love.

Abby Davvison is a social innovation leader and career development expert. She co-wrote the book Money and Love: An Intelligent Roadmap for Life’s Biggest Decisions. I’m going to review five of her top strategies to strengthen your financial relationship as a couple.

Improving money and love with your partner

Did you know that many of us follow scripts in our relationships? In fact, many of us grow up either consciously or subconsciously believing that romantic decisions are made with your heart whereas other life decisions are made with our head. This script shapes much of how we do or don’t deal with money and love.

If you’re someone who prefers to keep them separate, Abby says not so fast. The reality, according to Abby, is that “these decisions are incredibly intertwined. If you think about money decisions without bringing love in, you’re leaving out a huge element of the picture.”

Here are five ways to rewrite your script and enrich your financial relationship.

Make time for clear conversation

One of the first ways to improve the connection with you and your partner is to make time for clear conversations. Abby points out that money conversations are really still so taboo. Recent Empower research Money Talks reveals that 46% of coupled adults don’t discuss financial matters with their partner or spouse. Abby says that for all romantic comedies that are churned out every year, not one features a couple having a practical discussion about tackling education debt together.

While Hollywood may not give us a blueprint for having these conversations, it’s important to make time for them regardless. If you’re rushing out the door or juggling a bunch of household tasks, you won’t be able to do the conversation justice. Instead, Abby suggests scheduling a time in advance when you have time to truly listen to one another.

You also want to give yourself time to articulate your thoughts. Just like you don’t want to rush into the conversation, you don’t want to rush your own thinking. Jotting some ideas down in advance or mentally preparing your thoughts will make the conversation much clearer.

Harness the superpower of empathy

While it doesn’t come with a cape, empathy certainly is a superpower. When you are talking with your partner about your financial picture, you definitely want to be clear on your position.

However, it’s also important to take a step back. “Make sure that you listen to their response. It might affirm or change what is important to you,” says Abby. When it comes to money and love, there should be some give and take. Trying to understand the other person’s perspective by listening carefully and validating that you heard what they said is a powerful step.

Check in with other ideas

A conversation as a couple is one way to strengthen your finances and your connection. But did you know that it’s also important to get money and love ideas from other places?

Abby says that making money and love decisions can sometimes feel very isolating. However, she says these check-ins “give you a chance to feel less alone and get ideas from others.” While you don’t have to make the same decisions, it is sometimes helpful to learn how other people think through things.

If you feel like you don’t have anyone to talk to, you can still do a check in. Pick up a book, find a blog, check out different social media accounts, or download a podcast about money conversations.

Foster unity while supporting autonomy

Money conversations should definitely bring you and your partner together. But you don’t need to finish each other’s sentences – or agree on every single detail of your finances. The goal is to look at the big picture together and to honor the ways you can each work to get there.

While many couples would jump at a roadmap, the truth is this is something that is unique to every relationship. That’s why Abby says it helps to get other perspectives, and ultimately make the money and love decisions that work best for you. That might mean keeping some (or all) of your financial accounts separate. It might also mean combining everything but then making sure both partners have their own spending money.

The ultimate goal is to work as a team while still respecting each other as individuals.

Utilize a budget to support your conversations

Sometimes people are overwhelmed at the prospect of discussing money. After all, that’s a topic that can feel almost all encompassing. Instead of feeling like you need to discuss every aspect of finances, use a budget as a framework to have shorter and more efficient conversations.

You might meet once to establish a budget. That can help you get really clear on where your money is going and what you value spending on and saving for. Then, you can meet again for a budget analysis.

Empower’s free budgeting tool can give you an insightful third-party perspective to take some of the strong emotions out of these money conversations.

As you continue your journey together, you can use other tools like a net worth tracker to help you plan for your future and evaluate your decisions together.

Final thoughts on money and love

Money stories from our childhood shape our outlook on money and love, but that story doesn’t have to be the script you follow. Instead, use strategies like making time for clear conversations to strengthen your relationship and your financial future together.

Remember one of the most important ways to improve the connection between money and love: use your resources. Whether it’s a resource like Empower’s free budgeting tool or a conversation with a friend or a financial professional, it can be helpful to seek out more perspectives on money and love.

While a transformation won’t happen overnight, each of these strategies will have you and your partner taking another step in the right direction together.

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Andy Hill, AFC®

Contributor

Andy Hill, AFC®, is the award-winning family finance coach behind Marriage, Kids, and Money, a platform dedicated to helping young families build wealth and happiness.

Author is not a client of Empower Advisory Group, LLC, and is compensated as a freelance writer.

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