Get on the same financial page
The Reddit poster and his wife appear not to have discussed their financial attitudes and spending habits prior to this dinner. But this is one conversation you shouldn’t put off — a lack of communication here can lead to much worse scenarios than embarrassing yourself in front of your spouse’s friends.
A significant 64% of respondents told Bread Financial in a survey earlier this year that they were “financially incompatible” with their partners. But that can only lead to further division, including financial infidelity — something 45% of coupled respondents copped to committing.
Of course, knowing the risks of avoiding the topic doesn’t make it easier to talk about.
The best way to start get the conversation rolling? Keep it casual. You don’t need to open up spreadsheets and get a financial adviser on the phone. You and your partner can go on a walk and start the conversation. Keep it focused around how you both feel about money and how that affects how you use your money.
Pro tip: this isn’t a job interview. It’s not just hurling questions at your partner. You also have to get vulnerable too about your thoughts, fears and hopes for your money, so that they’ll open up with you.
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Create a fun fund
Having conversations about saving, budgeting and investing with your partner is important. But all work and no play can lead to a screaming match after dinner.
Just ask personal finance adviser and host of YouTube’s “I Will Teach You To Be Rich,” Ramit Sethi. Sethi saw this exact situation recently with a couple on his podcast. They saved, invested and planned well, but were constantly fighting over $20 Amazon purchases.
His advice? Shake off the poverty mindset and live their “rich life” now while they can. He argues that enjoying the money you worked hard for is just as important as planning for the future.
But if spending your hard-earned cash still makes you nervous, creating a “fun fund” may be your solution. Here’s how it works: you and your partner contribute a certain amount to this fund every month.
Whenever there’s a night out where you both decide (together) you want to treat your friends, you’ll always be sure you have the cash to cover it.
Shift your perspective
Sharing your money is generally better for the health of your marriage, according to research from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. The study found that couples who pool their money are more likely to see it as “ours” rather than “yours/mine,” which then leads to fewer fights.
Once you and your partner find common ground on what’s important to you, you can figure out how to use your cash in a way that works for you both. Even if you don’t share the same money philosophies, reframing money as a tool to help you create the shared life you want together may make it easier.
If pooling everything seems like too much, that’s okay, too. You and your partner should discuss what you want to pay for jointly and what you want to pay for separately. From there, you can figure out how much each person contributes to the joint account every month. Then, you’re each free to do whatever you want with your leftover money.
The financial rights and wrongs of a relationship are different for each couple. Don’t be afraid to ask about it so your spouse’s friends don’t have more of a say over it than you do.
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