You’re in love with your best friend, that special somebody that you share everything with. Butttt there’s still one thing that you don’t fully share – your finances. You know, just that thing that feels so intimate and so exposing, yet seems to play a role in every aspect of your life.
It’s scary to talk about finances with your significant other. If you combine your finances, will your partner judge you? Will you lose the freedom of being able to spend what you want, when you want? Does it feel like you’ll have to answer to someone else? Maybe you’re just nervous about disclosing that credit card balance you’ve been carrying, or the fact that you haven’t been saving much.
Outside of fears and anxieties, there are practical questions too. Things like “how do we do this?!” and figuring out a system that is simple and something that you’ll actually use.
Whatever has held you up from combining your finances with your partner, it’s time to conquer that. Because I’ll tell you, the “after” of this work feels GREAT. I know because I’ve done it with my husband, and helped many clients do the same.
I’m going to share with you the 4-step framework that I use personally and with my clients for combining finances with a partner.
1. Your Relationship with Money
When you think about relationships, you probably think about people, but what about your relationship with money? How about your partner’s relationship with money, and the role money plays in your relationship with each other?
There are some important things to understand about yourself and your partner:
- Your relationship with money right now. Do this exercise: if money were your lover, how would you describe your relationship?
- Your money story: what messages did you hear about money growing up? Think about the money messages you heard, saw, and experienced from your parents, family, friends, society, etc.
- Connect the dots: how do those earlier money messages affect your current belief system? For example, do you hold yourself back from making more money because you believe rich people are bad and greedy?
- Question your belief system: what money beliefs are serving you, and which ones hold you back? I’ll give you a hint, a belief with any hint of negativity is holding you back.
- Reframe the beliefs that hold you back. Start to pay attention to the negative things you think, say, and believe about money. When you notice yourself with a negative money thought, erase that thought and replace it with a positive thought (even if you don’t fully believe that positive thought, yet)
- Do these exercises with your partner and share your thoughts and feelings.
- Think about how your findings affect different areas of your finances: your budgeting, your confidence in making more money, your desires to spend and save, etc.
Since this is a vulnerable topic, remember a few things…
- Listen to your partner (and yourself) without judgement.
- Be curious and seek to understand.
- Give yourself grace and pay attention to how you treat yourself and your partner through this process of exploration. Be kind to yourself!
- Practice empathy. Put yourself in each other’s shoes.
2. Sharing Hopes and Dreams #Goals
Are money conversations with your partner past and present focused only? Have you had talks about all your hopes and dreams, and have you felt supported in pursuing those hopes and dreams?
It’s important to communicate what you want, as well as understand what it is your partner wants, and support each other in your journey.
Some exercises you can do to start this conversation:
- Envision your future life: what does life look like in 20 years? Where are you, what are you doing, who are you with? Write it down then share! Repeat for 10 years, 5 years, 1 year.
- Do you have a bucket list? Make one together! You can have a joint bucket list and an individual one.
- Do a core values exercise. Share your top 3-5 core values with your partner.
- Write down goals that you share as a couple and goals that you have as individuals.
- Talk about them! Was this easy, were you on the same page? Are there areas where you both need to compromise to meet in the middle?
3. Knowing the Numbers
Ohhhh nooo, not the numbers! Yes, the numbers. It’s time to know them and share them. Start to release any shame or fear or anxiety you have around looking at the numbers and sharing them with your partner. I know, easier said than done, but once you start it gets better and better.
Important numbers to know and share:
- Income: salary, business income, bonuses, rental, etc
- Expenses: how much do different bills cost? What do you spend every month?
- Assets: these are the things you own. How much do you have in the bank, investments, retirement, property?
- Debts: time to share those student loans, credit cards, mortgages, car loans. What about interest rates on those loans, what are they?
- Insurances: what do you have for health, life, disability? If you were to become sick or pass away, what type of benefit would your partner receive, if any?
4. Prioritize, Strategize, and DO THE WORK
You may be full on exhausted after doing the first 3 steps and feel extremely overwhelmed. After all, you did just release some of that money baggage you’ve been carrying around, list out your entire current financial situation, and discuss all your hopes and dreams for the future.
So let’s break it down into something that is small, simple, and easy to follow.
Step 1 – Prioritize. Pick 1 thing to focus on first. Whatever is most important to you right now.
Step 2 – Strategize. How can you start to take action on that 1 thing? Break it down into small, manageable chunks. Set an action step that will progress you towards that goal, but will take you maybe 30 minutes to complete.
For example, if you want to start a cash reserve account, your first step may be to simply open up a savings account.
Step 3 – Do the work! You just set an action step, now do it! Put it in your calendar. Find an accountability buddy. Set a day and time every week that you commit to doing financial action steps. Add it to your to- do list.
Repeat this process over and over again and continue to take small and easy action steps and before you know it, you’ll have made massive progress towards your goals!
Now that you know the 4 step framework that I use with couples to help them combine their finances, I’d love to help you do the same! Schedule a free 30 minute #MoneyChat with me, and we can talk more specifically about how to apply this framework to your unique situation. Schedule here!