Culturally, we have been taught to avoid talking about personal finances. Absent the skill to talk about money, financial issues fester in relationships - degrade marriages, skew dating protocols, confuse children, and limit friendships.
The most valuable financial tool we can use to fortify personal relationships is to talk about money. Not big conversations, arguments, or accusations - simple conversations that help shape and model financial integrity in healthy mature relationships.
Husbands and Wives
Healthy and mature life partnerships require financial solidarity. Financial solidarity does not imply specific structure in relationships, there are many formulas that work. However, there are two constants: (1) Transparency, both partners must have ready access all financial information, (2) Shared consequences based on financial decisions and management.
Talking about money requires skill. All skill requires practice. Life partnership offers many opportunities and much time for practice. The earlier in relationship both partners engage in financial solidarity, the more sustainable the life partnership.
Here are a few guidelines for talking about money in Life Partnerships:
- Review cash flow plans and net worth reports together at least once a year.
- Agree on three to five priorities: how and to what extent those priorities will be funded.
- When financial issues arise; no ambushing! Diving into a controversial financial subject when the other partner is unprepared or distracted is degrading and unfair. Instead, schedule a time when both parties can participate with full attention.
- No nagging! If the same financial issues keep occurring in relationship it is likely connected to values and priorities. If a financial issue is festering and degrading relationship, seek profession help through counseling.
Financial realities of dating are regular topics in financial counseling and planning. Financial resources impact access to dating relationships for many singles, particularly as life experience adds complexities.
Traditional gender models requiring men to pay for everything don't hold up well, even when early life sensibilities persist.
Concerns that relationships may drain resources can be a deterrent.
Outward appearances of financial circumstances may be intentionally or unintentionally deceiving.
Although challenging, concerns do not have to be disabling. To quiet fears associated with financial vulnerability it's important to be comfortable talking about money, with productive and un-judgmental skill.
A simple, "Will this be your treat?" before accepting an invitation can save a lot of heartache and embarrassment.
A general question, "What is your financial situation?" is not prying in the context of determining how to organize the cost of shared life experiences.
Does a restricted budget lead to social isolation? It may be an epidemic problem for single adults. Talk about money with other singles who date or want to date, it's a great way to begin getting comfortable talking about money with prospective partners. Here are two actual case examples:
Betty's Dating Experience - Difficult lessons learned.
Molly's Successes - Talking About Money - Article below.
Unconditional love of parents for children can lead to poor or misguided judgement in financial relationships. When are children financially independent? The answer is often when parents quit being a financial resource.
Parents teach children by role model and by instruction which means talking about money. Absent high drama, comfortable conversations within earshot of children is as much a teaching opportunity as any life lesson. From the first allowance, birthday gift money, or earnings, children learn to allocate their resources as an extension of their rights and responsibilities.
Successful parents wean children of financial dependence over time, having provided enough financial guidance that their children adapt to independence. When children enter adulthood:
- Financial gifts should be inconsistent and discretionary so that children do not rely on windfalls.
- Bailouts must be carefully negotiated, come with conditions, and rarely (if ever) repeated.
We choose our friends and define friendship based on many factors. Friendships offer unique opportunities for learning and building financial skills.
Talking about money with friends broadens perspective, challenging or reinforcing financial behaviors.
Talking about money provides a great opportunity to create stress free equilibrium for healthy relationships.
I always encourage friends to pool funds for trips. It minimizes splitting checks and keeping track of who paid what.
Deciding on dinner and a movie? Talking about money helps to create an inclusive plan, that everyone can afford.
Talking about money is a critical life skill. The more comfortable the conversation the more sustainable are relationships.