Remember back when you were single? Life was easy – you could have your lattes, go to the movies and have a fun night out on the weekend.
But now that you’ve moved in with your significant other, you might find that finances are just a little bit more tight.
It’s so easy to blame each other for financial stress:
Maybe your partner wanted to rent an apartment in an expensive part of town. Maybe you feel like you have to splash out on date nights and gifts for your S.O.
However, couples can often alleviate the financial stress by following a few guidelines:
Set lifestyle expectations
Firstly, recognize that each partner has come from different backgrounds. Each of you have different expectations on what kind of lifestyle is acceptable.
While one of you might be able to put up with peeling paint in the apartment, the other might need to call in a painter.
While one of you might be happy catching up on sleep over the holidays, the other might be accustomed to flying to a tropical vacation.
Sometimes culture can widen the difference even more. Like we shared about mail-order brides where some Americans find Russian women for marriage, coming from harder circumstances can lead to different perspectives on money.
So disagreements arise.
That’s why it’s extremely important to be clear about how you feel about certain expenditures from the beginning. You can set some rules in place to govern spending such that both parties can exercise money habits that they’re comfortable with.
Be transparent with your financial status
There’s nothing worse than starting a relationship on false pretenses.
Sometimes, we’re so eager to flaunt our wealth in order to attract our other half. This is especially so in the early stages. But what happens when you fall into a spiral of keeping up this image of wealth, spending more than what your income can support?
In addition, you might even attract the wrong type of partner – someone who spends easily and couldn’t care for budgeting.
It requires a lot of courage to reveal your financial standing to your partner. You might feel like a fraud. But it is absolutely necessary for your partner to know what you can manage financially.
An understanding partner will bear your finances in mind when making decisions – from the very large (like moving into a new home) to the very small (like going out for a movie vs. staying at home.)
Work together towards a common goal
Zig Ziglar coined the famous phrase, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.”
If you and your partner see a long-term future together, then finances will no doubt be part of that future. To keep you on track, it’s important to set financial goals.
For example, one significant expense that most couples have is buying a house. Ask yourselves questions like:
- How much do we need for a down payment?
- When do we need this money by?
- How are we going to save it?
Don’t underestimate the power of thinking through these questions together. When both of you come to an agreement on what your goal should be and how you’re going to achieve it, both of you become committed to the plan.
You can even say to each other, “how am I going to contribute to this shared goal?”
When each party has a responsibility to make your financial goals a success, you will start carrying your weight and playing like a team.
Lastly, budget like your life depended on it
Now that you’ve set a goal and have a general idea of how to get there, you need to put it into a written action plan. That’s your budget!
Your budget tracks money coming in, and money going out.
And it will show you whether you’re on track to hitting your financial goals. It is clear as day and will keep both parties honest about how they’re contributing to your financial success.
Many relationships are strained because of money matters. Many relationships end due to money woes, and it’s really a shame because working towards a financial goal can strengthen a relationship instead of destroy it.
While money is a difficult subject to bring up with your love one, it is a crucial (and ongoing) discussion.