How we communicate with each other can be just as important as the message you are trying to get across to the other person. If you have a recent history of financial arguments it is easy to let emotions and the past take over the discussion.
When talking to a spouse or significant other about money it is also easy for things to get lost in translation. Always be aware of how you are actually communicating with a spouse or loved one about money matters. Never forget that how you say things is just as important as what you actually say. Talking about money is not something that comes easily for most people.
Try following these basic communication tips when talking about life goals and money matters:
1. Set a date
Schedule a convenient time to talk about money. Try to pick a time during the week when you are both available to have a calm discussion free from any distractions (e.g., no children, no television).
2. Establish open lines of communication
Remember that what you say is sometimes not as important as how you say it. Use “I” messages to improve communication.
3. Talk about your life experience with money
What was your financial situation like growing up? What lessons did you learn early in life about money?
4. Give and Take
If you are going to ask your spouse to sacrifice something you need to be willing to do the same.
5. Set boundaries on what can and cannot be discussed
Stay focused. Do not bring up off-limit topics.
6. Avoid secret-spending
Be open and honest with your spouse.
7. Agree on a personal spending plan
A budget or personal spending plan will not work unless you both work the plan together. Decide on your individual roles and how to support each other.
8. Discuss your financial matters on a regular basis
This is a key element to staying focused and on track. Schedule routine check-ins that don’t have to be insanely boring or stressful. Work some fun into the discussion. So no binge watching your favorite series on Netflix until your weekly spending plan review has been completed or you’ve had a chance to review your credit card statements or take other proactive steps together.
9. Seek professional assistance if necessary
Know when to seek assistance. If you cannot talk to your spouse or significant other about money then you may need help. Financial therapists, marital counselors and financial life planners can all be helpful.