Whenever I can catch a snippet of the Dave Ramsey radio show, I’m always excited to hear the couples call in to Dave to announce their debt free. Some of these families have gotten out of a huge amount of debt. Many of them cite the encouragement that they received from each other as their motivation. I find it sweet and inspiring.
However, that’s not always the case with couples. I’ve heard occasionally someone call in and ask Dave for help with their spouse. One of them is motivated to be done with debt while the other isn’t completely on board. They’re looking for Dave to magically fix their problem. He’s honest with and gives a tidbit or two of things they can try out.
I made me wonder how many other couples are going through the same situation. What about couples who have different financial goals? Can they work it out or are they doomed? I believe it is possible to strengthen your relationship with each other and money. It takes work and it takes time to figure out a system that will work for the two.
Money & Relationships: Not Mutually Exclusive
Family therapist M. Gary Neuman had a great stregy for couples:
Attack the problem, not each other.
What that means is that both of you need to work as a team not as competitors. As individuals, both of you bring your own strengths and weaknesses. I have a few tips on talking about your financial goals that I’ve shared before:
- Pick the right time to have the talk. Choose a time that both of you can give your undivided attention.
- If your spouse brings up a concern, let them open up. Don’t interrupt and don;t judge. Sometimes it’s best to listen so you know what approach can work for both of you.
- Try framing it as a ‘we’ issue. It is easier to handle a situation when you’re both on the same page.
- Celebrate the victories. When you achieved a goal, no matter how small, celebrate.
That’s what has worked for us; hopefully it can serve as a starting point for you as create a communication style all your own.
Two Heads Are Better Than One
If you remember last week I mentioned a few financial goals that you two should consider together. These financial decisions not only affect your wallet, but your lives. They include:
- Housing: Where you live is something both of you should agree on. Buying vs renting isn’t as clear cut as some people believe. Some urban areas have a high cost of living and couples find renting to be a more practical option.
- Kids: Having or not having children is probably the biggest decision you two will make. Don’t have kids just because it’s expected from others. It’s a lifetime commitment that requires both of you to communicate openly and work constructively with each other for the good of your child(ren). If you decide to have kids, discussing how many you want with one another can clear up any mis-communications and bad assumptions you may have.
- Retirement: Don’t spend your golden years together scraping by. Sit down and chat witch each other on what you’d like to do during retirement. Get a ballpark figure of how much that lifestyle will cost and work from there. Double check with one another to see if you’re taking advantage of 401(k) matches if they are available.
While it would be great for you two to be on the same page for all of your goals it’s not realistic. You have to accept the fact that you two will have certain financials goals that will differ from each other.
Do You Need Help with Money and Love?
Are you juggling relationship with money? Don’t forget to check out other posts in the series:
- Would You Date a Cheap Person?
- How Do Financial Differences Affect a Relationship?
- When Should You Have the Money Talk as a Couple?
I hope that helps and I hope that you take a minute or more to share your own stories on how you got on the same financial page in the comments below.