How to talk about money with your spouse?


This isn’t always easy – talking about money, let alone agreeing about money, with your spouse. I see it every day with couples who come into my office. Many times, you have one spouse who’s a spender and one who’s a saver. Rarely are both savers. If it turns out they are both spenders, I hope they make a boatload of money. I suspect before marriage most individuals truly never did a deep dive conversation about money. A conversation about each one’s values, goals, what money meant (or means) to them, and how they view and use money not only today but in the future. It is important to talk about money with your spouse.

Maybe you’ve been married for a year or 25 years. Congratulations! Marriage isn’t easy these days and when money enters the conversation, it can just downright be hard especially if you have different goals and perspectives on your money.

Many spouses choose not to even talk about money, spending or the financial realities they face.

We should all not be afraid to have an open and honest conversation with our spouse. Remember, you’re on the same team and sometimes you just need to make sure you have the same playbook.

Here are three steps on how to talk about money with your spouse:

1. Share where you stand financially – the good and the bad.

I find many spouses don’t want or are afraid to share their “true” net worth. They worry for a few reasons. One is the other spouse might be a spender and they spend even more money. Or they don’t want to cause another fight/argument over money. Sometimes spouses have a secret account or a credit card that’s out of control and they are just embarrassed.

Just put it out on the table. Open up, share the information and know your numbers. Assets (savings, checking, credit cards, retirement accounts, etc.), liabilities (mortgages, credit cards, etc.), and don’t overlook your insurance coverages (life, disability, property, casualty, etc.).

2. Talk about your money and values.

Do they align with each of you? Chances are you haven’t had a values conversation about your money. Values change over time especially as we get older. How we view the world and what we want to accomplish becomes less important than “stuff” and we place a greater importance on experiences, time with family, etc. This is how you can become the master of your money and direct where you want your money to go.

It’s incredibly freeing when these two areas match up.

3. How can you close the gap where differences exist?

It’s hard to believe, but spouses don’t always agree about money. If you can’t reach complete agreement, sometimes you have to have separate accounts or “mad” money for one spouse. It’s money they have each month to spend without guilt or regret. Yet, you still need to have the financial foundation built, but sometimes you need the flexibility to have harmony in your home.

If you need a third party to help facilitate this meaningful conversation, please contact me. After meeting, our clients often see the value of these discussions to help align their money and their financial plan.

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