Today is Valentine’s Day and Americans will crowd restaurants for romantic dinners with their loved ones and shell out cash on everything from flowers, chocolates, cards and singing telegrams. In fact, the National Retail Federation says the average person will spend around $126 on Valentine’s Day-related expenses, up 8.5% from last year. But what is often overlooked when couples take a time out to appreciate each other is dedicating a moment to discuss money and financial values.
Understanding your financial values and how they differ from those of your partner is one key to success in managing money together as a couple. It is crucial that couples discuss and identify how their money values are alike or different, and spotlight the areas they need to work on together.
The risk in having limited communication about money is that it may lead to financial infidelity. Financial infidelity can be anything from hiding cash or purchases to keeping a secret bank account. And sometimes, this breakdown of trust can be too much to overcome.
Most marriages ending in divorce cite “financial issues” as one of the main factors contributing to the divorce. In facts, 3 out of 10 Americans who have combined their finances with a partner admit to lying to their significant other about their finances!
The key to understanding and maintaining financial compatibility is communication.
Set joint goals. Talk about what you and your partner each want financially out of life, and choose goals, big or small, that you want to reach as a couple. Discuss what changes you each can make in your money habits to help you reach those goals.
Compromise. When it comes to money management you may think your way is the best way, but your partner has other ideas. Be prepared to give a little, and you will get a little, too.
Set limits. Agree that neither of you will make a large purchase—say, anything over $200—without first discussing it with each other.
Make it a date. It’s easy to let your busy life get in the way, but you can make money management a part of your regular schedule. Set a time every month, “a money date,” when you will discuss how you are progressing towards your goals.
Resist the temptation to fib. If you’re going to come clean, stay clean.
Be positive. Don’t hold past mistakes against your partner. If you are negative or angry when you talk about money your partner will get defensive, and a productive conversation will be over before it gets started. Be encouraging and forgiving, and offer to help.