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  • Writer's pictureJohn J. Diak, CFP®

Creating a Shared Financial Vision: Having the Money Talk with Your Partner

Creating a Shared Financial Vision: Having the Money Talk with Your Partner

If talking about money with your partner stresses you out, you’re not alone. Many couples avoid the topic altogether because opening up about finances can be uncomfortable. Sharing the details of your income, debt, assets (or lack thereof), spending habits, and more may leave you feeling vulnerable, especially if you fear judgment, shame, or the possibility of giving up your autonomy. But while romantic relationships are matters of the heart, money matters can either fortify or undermine even the strongest bonds. 


Partnerships that last are built on a solid foundation of trust and communication. It's not just about the numbers; it's about creating a shared vision of the future that those numbers represent. 


This is why initiating the "money talk" early in a relationship is so important. And it’s why continuing to talk about money can be the difference between growing apart and growing together as a couple.


Money conversations allow couples to come together, align their financial aspirations, and lay the groundwork for mapping out life as one unit. Regularly revisiting that financial roadmap with your significant other is what will ensure that you're both equipped to go the distance. 


We believe the "money talk" is essential to building a lasting union and resilient love that stands the test of time. Here’s how to create the kind of financial intimacy that unites you in partnership and helps you avoid common conflicts.


Initiate and Encourage Open Communication


If you’re not already talking about money as a couple, someone has to take the reins and initiate the conversation. It might be up to you to make the first move, so approach it with an open mind and a genuine willingness to listen. 


Remember, money conversations can be delicate and loaded with landmines. You’re potentially unveiling divergent perspectives or conflicting attitudes toward finances, which can be difficult for the other person to accept. You might uncover some surprising facts about your significant other and face aspects of yourself that are difficult to acknowledge. Keeping the other person in the dark or sticking your head in the sand is a good way to run into trouble down the road.


Recognize that both partners bring different experiences and beliefs to the table. This is a time to explore each other's financial mindset with the objective of understanding the other person better. 


For this to work, you should both feel free to express your values, goals, and concerns. What do you want to achieve? How do you want your life to unfold? When it comes to money, what’s most important to you and where are you most willing to compromise? What are your deal breakers and why? Be forthcoming and do your best to withhold judgment. 


There’s a good chance you’ll have to work to find common ground. It’s not always easy to accommodate someone else’s needs and desires. Communicating about money successfully may take more self-awareness and compromise than you’re used to, especially at the beginning. But making the commitment to fostering financial intimacy is worth the effort. 


Having the “money talk” is how you can begin making financial decisions that are both considerate of the other person and reflective of the vision and values you share as a couple.


Transparency and Unity


If you’re committed to building a life together, you’ll both need to lay it all on the table. 


Openly sharing private information about your income, debts, investments, and expenses might be scary at first, but it can’t be avoided. Whether you’re worried about admitting to negative financial circumstances or you’re concerned about revealing that you have more wealth than your partner likely expects, remember this: intimacy suffers from dishonesty, and that includes lies of omission. 


We believe that full transparency is necessary for informed decision-making and collaborative financial planning.


Talk about specific goals, such as targets for retirement, buying your first or next home, expanding your family, or investing in education. The act of sharing financial information and outlining common goals is akin to crafting a roadmap for a shared journey. Aligning your financial ambitions can create unity in purpose as you take this journey together.


The "money talk" is not just about where you are now, financially; it's a pathway to your shared financial future. As you open up about your individual financial desires, this is when synergies begin to arise and you start to merge into a united force. It’s exciting! 


Establish a Collaborative Financial Framework


The crux of the “money talk” should always be about coming to a mutual understanding of your finances. How will you operate both individually and as a team when it comes to money? You get to establish your own joint framework for navigating your distinct financial journey as a couple — smoothly, avoiding unnecessary missteps. 


At its most basic level, your framework should establish a household budget, address spending habits, and determine financial roles. The idea is to make sure you’re both on the same page and working with the same set of guidelines. 


One way to start may be by creating a household budget that works for both of you. Outline income sources, fixed expenses, and variable costs, and don’t forget to dedicate a portion to savings. A budget not only provides clarity but also sets the stage for confident everyday decision-making.


The next piece is to discuss spending habits. What’s acceptable? What’s not? When should you run a purchasing decision past the other person? Talk about individual and joint discretionary spending, budgeting approaches, and any concerns regarding excessive expenditures. 


Finally, address your roles and responsibilities related to managing your finances. Who is primarily responsible for funding your lifestyle? And who is responsible for managing day-to-day finances? Who makes investment decisions, and at what level? Will you divide and conquer or will one person take the lead? Establishing these roles not only streamlines efforts but also ensures that both partners are actively engaged and accountable in building a stable and prosperous financial future together. 


Putting a framework in place can lessen the likelihood that money becomes a source of ongoing conflict in your relationship — but only if each person respects the guidelines.


Seek Professional Help


Navigating the “money talk” with your partner can be a smooth and productive process when you involve a financial advisor. Their experience in money management and investment strategies can help make your conversations both focused and productive while helping to alleviate potential tensions and helping you develop a united approach to managing your finances. Similarly, a licensed professional counselor can help you negotiate the emotions intertwined in money conversations and provide tools for effective communication and conflict resolution. 


Seeking professional help is a strategic move toward pursuing the health and longevity of your financial and emotional well-being as a couple. By tapping into external guidance, you not only gain valuable awareness but also create a supportive environment where constructive dialogue can take place, strengthening the foundation for your financial future together.


John J. Diak, CFP® is the Principal & Client Wealth Manager at Oatley & Diak, LLC in Parker, Colorado. He assists clients through many difficult lifestyle changes such as business downturns, retirement planning, divorce, the death of a spouse, and family estate issues among others. Oatley & Diak, LLC is a family-run registered investment advisory (RIA) firm that provides clients with investment management and financial planning services in a hands-on, intimate environment. Learn more about them at oatleydiak.com


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.


This material was prepared by Crystal Marketing Solutions, LLC, and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate and is intended merely for educational purposes, not as advice.

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