How To Have A Safe Conversation About Money With Your Spouse

For some inexplicable reason our culture has made it difficult to talk about money. The boundaries are not just with people at work or friends; it also resides in conversations with our spouses.

Knowing that the topic is a complicated and important one, we can move forward with having “the money talk”.

I spoke with Brian Lindner, Professional Counselor at MakeSomeWonderful.com. He gave some advice to help us bring up the topic of money, credit, and debt in a new relationship.

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It got me thinking: What are some ways to have a safe conversation about money with your spouse?

Here's what I came up with:

Schedule money fights 🙂

What some call “budget meetings”, others call money fights. If you know what date and time to discuss finances, the better prepared you are. You balance the checking account in advance, you look at how much debt you’ve paid off or  how much money went into savings. Instead of reflecting only on the problems, you talk about dreams and goals and recent successes. Pick a time, put it on your calendar, and don’t forget about it!

Tip: Don’t try to schedule money fights within 2 hours of going to sleep. Most people are exhausted by bedtime and you’ll want to push it off to another day. Grab a cup of coffee, sit down at the breakfast table in your robe and slippers, and start your day slaying the dragons together. 🙂

Go to a neutral corner

Find a location, whether it is a restaurant you’ve never visited or take a walk. Carl Richards, author of One Page Financial Plan, says talking about money is emotional. For this reason he suggests “keeping conversations about money out of the bedroom, the park where you go to relax, or the place where you had your first date.”

Find a neutral corner to talk so there is no chance of ruining a place you used to love. Don't poop where you eat and certainly don't have a money fight in your favorite chair.

Use correct verbiage

My wife is a very successful and independent woman who has always earned more than I have. Internally I ask myself “who am I to tell her how we should manage our money?”

Note the verbiage I used in the previous sentence: “…how WE SHOULD manage OUR money”.

First of all, using “we” and “our” is  healthy when talking about money. After all, we are married so all the money that comes into the household should be used to reach our goals.

However, the word “should” is poisonous. It needs to be struck from my vocabulary!

I shouldn't be “should-ing” my bride – we are equal partners. Instead, I need to replace “should” with “could”. It opens up so many other doors to positive conversation.

Don’t pick on facts

Just like you shouldn’t judge someone solely on their credit score, don’t focus on the facts. Relationships are about feelings.

Men: We like to fix problems while women like to communicate about them. Be open to listening to what they are trying to say, restate what you think she said, and be sure you understand what she is feeling. Also, try not to interrupt (this is my greatest challenge!)

Example: “Let me make sure I heard you right. You feel _________” (insert summary of what you thought she said). Then shut up. I know dude. Just do it.

Women: Your man wants to be your knight in shining armor. Dragons are not slain by sitting in the castle talking about how they make us feel. Try to get him to understand your desires for working together, sandwich it in-between compliments, then let him take action.

Example:Sir Husband, You are a great provider and I know this dragon (i.e. problem) is troubling us. The moat has not been filled in weeks and the pantry is about to run bare. It worries me that _________ (insert specific financial challenge here – such as ‘we don’t have enough money in savings, the credit card balances keep rising, etc). Can you find it in your heart to sit down and do a budget with me Saturday morning (I couldn’t come up with a medieval term for budget – but you get the idea). It would mean the world to me and the dragon will whither away like a fig tree with no rain.”

Write it down

One of the greatest things my wife and I did recently was write down her goals. They were temporary goals for saving for a car, saving for house windows, and paying down the mortgage. While we didn’t reach the third goal by the deadline, we did reach the first two ahead of schedule. Seeing these goals in writing made her feel in control and it gave me something tangible to work towards. We both won.

Men and women communicate differently – but that shouldn't deter us from having a conversation about money with our spouse. Schedule 60 minutes this weekend in a neutral location to talk about your dreams, goals and aspirations. Then write them down and begin to direct more of your dollars towards those goals.

It took my wife and I 13 months to pay off our consumer debt and we just paid off our mortgage early. You can have similar – if not better – results than we had when you come together and talk about money.

I created a course to walk couples through a conversation about their dreams and financial goals. It includes a reusable template and only takes about an hour to complete. After completing the course, it takes about 30 minutes a month to have a conversation about money with your spouse and the results are extraordinary!

Online budget course married couples

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