Money harmony for couples
February 17, 2014
Love is in the air. Chocolate, flowers or a candlelit dinner are historically the expression of choice, but what about the idea of creating financial harmony as an expression of true commitment that will last a lifetime? How do we move towards financial relational bliss?
The first step is to understand that your relationship with money needs to be in balance, both personally and with your partner. People think that more money will solve all of their problems, but if you are not in balance, it will just exasperate your existing lack of ease with ongoing financial discord.
We have all experienced power struggles in our relationships, and money is one of the contentious battles that surface. We have heard that opposites attract, and your money personalities are no different. Even if we start out with similar ideas about how to use the green stuff, we can eventually move towards polarization, and attack each other for our strengths.
There are seven categories financial continuums:
Hoarder vs. spender
Worrier vs. avoider
Planner vs. dreamer
Monk vs. amasser
Risk-taker vs. risk-avoider
Money merger vs. money separatist
Polarizing around different priorities
In order to move towards family financial accord, you need recognize who you are around money and who your partner is. When Mark and I met, 25 years ago, he was fairly carefree and spent money on a whim. I was cautious, always looking for a bargain and really controlling. Ten years into our marriage, we had polarized and were at each other's throats. Over time, we have learned how to appreciate the strengths in both of these money personalities in each other. He has learned how to be more intentional about his financial choices, and I am a bit more carefree.
Take some time to reflect and acknowledge what you appreciate in your partner's style. Take a risk to do something different — meet them halfway. Try on something non-natural for you. It won't be comfortable, but it will eventually feel good and head you in the right direction. When you do something out of your comfort zone, recognize it and monitor your progress. It will be two steps forward and one step back. Sometimes, writing about your experience of doing it differently, how it feels and what were the results will give you and your partner good feedback to work from.
The earlier in your relationship you can work on these pieces, the more likely you will survive the ongoing hurdles in life. As we see a generation moving into "rewirement," there are additional issues that come up and need to be processed.
Having money harmony will help us deal with the complexities of answering new questions we face. What is next in this phase of life? Do we sell the house, travel, move closer to the kids? Will we seek adventure or deepen our current roots? How do we balance giving back versus having fun and relaxing? Do we simplify or keep the same lifestyle? How do we embrace change — the physical, mental, emotional and financial adjustments that will take place as we age? Do we open ourselves up to new possibilities? Do we stick to familiar pain or risk new pleasure? How do we address our mortality and look at creating our legacy?
Give your valentine a true, deeply thoughtful and meaningful gift (albeit less tangibly romantic) the gift of money harmony! Check out "The Couple's Retirement Puzzle — 10 Must Have conversations for Couples" by Roberta Taylor and Dorian Mintzer.
Danielle Howard is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER ™ practitioner. Wealth By Design, LLC, her financial life planning office is located at 23300 Two Rivers Road in Basalt. She helps clients build financial lives to facilitate their passions and purpose. Visit her at http://www.wealthbydesign4u.com or call 927-3909. Advisory Services offered through Lighthouse Financial, LLC., A Registered Investment Advisor. Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. Cambridge and WBD are not affiliated.