Linda: When you do finally get over your resistance to talking about money? Where do you begin? There is no “correct” place to begin. It’s best not to begin with the difficult issues since you’ll need to practice on concerns that are easier to resolve. Successes will provide you with more confidence in your ability to have productive conversations.
These are some commonly avoided questions that will help you and your partner to find out where you are, and are not, on the same page in regard to finances.
These questions will illuminate the places in your relationship that need attention.
- How frequently do we want to sit down together to plan our financial future?
- Are we going to have our money separate, in the same shared pot, or some combination of the above?
- How much of our income do we want to bank or invest for savings?
- How much credit card debt, if any, are we willing to carry?
- Who is better at paying the bills and how do we want to allocate responsibility for paying them?
- What portion of our income do we bank for vacations and other non-necessities?
- How much transparency and privacy do we want in regard to who spends how much and for what?
- Do we want to have a dollar amount as a boundary where we collaborate before a final decision is made on purchases?
- How do we each feel about hidden debts, secret accounts, and secret expenditures?
- Is there unfinished business leftover from our pasts that needs to be addressed that may be interfering with our goal of being financially successful?
- How much we each earn?
- How much we each spend?
- Are we spending excessively and if so, are we willing to cut back and where?
- How much do we save each month?
- Could we save more or is that amount about right for now?
- Are we willing to live below our means to be able to accrue significant savings?
- Do we know our current net worth? If yes, what is it?
- Have we done enough homework and adequate planning to accomplish our financial goals?
- Are we actively involved in living our written and stated financial vision and action plan?
- Do we have a one-year, five year, and ten-year plan?
- Are our action plans sufficiently detailed to enable us to reach our goals?
- Are we updating our written financial goals?
- How frequently should we update our plan?
- Do we have an emergency account, in case of illness or unemployment, to cover living expenses for three, six, twelve, or twenty-four months?
- Do we have an updated will or living trust?
- If we own a home, what is the first possible target date to have our mortgage paid off?
- Is either of us feeling excessive stress from carrying debt?
- If so, what can we do to lower the debt?
- Do we have adequate financial advisory support?
- If not, from whom might we receive support?
- If self-employed, are we taking the maximum tax shelter every year?
- If we have children, does each child have a college fund? Are we making regular contributions to it?
- Do we want to carry life insurance? If yes, how much?
- Do we want to invest in the stock market? If yes, what percentage of our net worth?
- Have we adequately communicated what matters most to each of us, so that our money is used for what we feel most deeply about?
- To manage our finances with greater ease, what would be required of each of us?
- Is there any way that we can make the money game more enjoyable for both of us?
Striving for understanding
Try to keep in mind that the purpose of initiating these conversations is to gather information and to understand where each of you stands in regard to these issues, and not to resolve any differences. That can come later. By honestly responding to these questions, you both will become clear about where you are in alignment with each other and where there are discrepancies. Remember that not all discrepancies need to be resolved and even couples with the best relationships have some irreconcilable differences.
Getting on the same page about everything with your partner isn’t always necessary or even possible, but coming to terms with your differences in a way that you both feel respected and understood, will go a long way. Keep in mind that this is a process, not an event, so be patient. The resolution doesn’t happen overnight but with intentionality, commitment, and mutual respect it will happen. And when it does, it’s a brand-new day.
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