The idea of a relationship seems simple on the surface, but when you think deeply about the connection between two partners, it’s quite spectacular! Two people, with entirely different childhoods, backgrounds, and experiences, come together to create a union through marriage. While you and your partner are bound to have so much in common (after all, that’s why you’re together!), there are also bound to be things you disagree on.
No matter if you and your partner grew up in similar situations or two completely different types of households, you’re unlikely to have the same views on everything. When it comes to differing opinions, disagreeing on financial matters can be one of the most difficult topics to clash on. Though major financial disagreements may seem like a major crossroads, it is certainly possible to meet in the middle and work through these differences.
Remember, it is normal to feel “red flag” feelings when you and your partner disagree on financial matters. However, proper handling and communication can lend themselves to healthy discussions, where you and your partner can work to get on the same page. Of course, marriage is all about compromise. Working together to come to a mutual agreement about finances is a great test to see how you and your partner will work through adversities when you’re married.
Types of Financial Views and Attitudes
You and your partner may come from entirely different financial backgrounds. Perhaps one partner’s family grew up barely making ends meet, while the other was well-off. Of course, this will impact each person’s attitudes and views surrounding money. Often, many people find themselves clashing with their partners with drastically different financial views.
One partner may have a more traditional or conservative approach to managing money. Usually, these types of attitudes are more focused on saving money and investing. Often, these are not people who enjoy spending and prefer to make and save money. In contrast, some people have a more “carefree” or impulsive attitude surrounding money. These people may enjoy spending money or tend to overspend unnecessarily. (Shopping lovers… we’re talking to you!)
In some cases, some people fall right in the middle. They may not be to either extreme personality. Instead, these people are more “flexible” spenders, which combine both personalities, given the situation. Usually, these people like making smart and strategic financial decisions and enjoy saving money. However, they’re also willing to spend money on things such as travel or items, in moderation. In most situations, this is the easiest financial attitude to agree with.
As with anything, all of these attitudes have pros and cons. There is no right or wrong way to live your life. Differences are what make the world go round! After all, many people believe that the whole point of making money is to enjoy and spend it. If you and your partner have differing views, coming to a middle ground is possible. You may need to compromise and sacrifice, but you can come to a mutual agreement that works for both people in a relationship.
Approaching the Conversation
Setting the right tone and mood for a financial discussion is important. If you jump into the discussion at the wrong time, you may find the outcomes are less than desirable. You’ll want to select a time where you and your partner can sit down, face to face, to explore your differing opinions. Before you do this, remember to set realistic goals and expectations internally. You cannot expect every financial issue to be solved all in a day. Your “conversation” may turn into a series of several, shorter discussions. And that’s okay!
Instead of pointing fingers and blame at one another, try approaching the conversation with a blank slate. Focus on creating goals and objectives together, as a couple. These goals should be a combination of both partners’ beliefs about finances. Setting these mutual goals can help you and your partner find common ground and identify things that you both want to spend on throughout the marriage. Maybe this is a dream destination vacation or buying a mountain home. Whatever goals you set, be sure that they equally reflect each person’s desires.
Running Through Financial Topics
“Financial discussions” or “let’s talk about finances” is very broad. When you and your partner have different financial views, this could be on one or many topics. Within finances come all different types of discussions, such as saving habits, spending habits, division of bills and expenses, debt accumulation, gambling, and so much more. Rather than attempting to talk about finances as one lump sum, it may be helpful for some couples to break discussions down into categories.
By doing this, you and your partner can focus on one individual topic at once. For example, this would be a time where you and your partner can set down rules such as “we each get $100 a week to spend as we wish” or “we both need to talk to each other before making purchases over $50”. When it comes to these types of financial discussions, there are no right or wrong answers. What works for one couple may not work for another. These discussions are a chance to find a common ground that works for both partners in a relationship.
Professional Financial Advice
If you find that you and your partner are having trouble compromising, consulting a finance professional may be an option. Rather than waiting until after you’ve already married, seeking financial advice before marriage is an ideal time. Consulting the expertise of a financial advisor provides a chance for both partners to express their concerns and receive input from a professional.
Based on both partners’ financial goals, an advisor can help draft a plan that targets these goals. In turn, you’ll be left with a financial plan both you and your partner can feel good about. While this may not be legally binding, it can at least put your partner and you on the same page before you enter a marriage.
The alternative is avoiding monetary discussions until you’re already married. Many couples make this mistake only to find they’ve started their marriage off on the wrong foot. Don’t let this happen to you! The best time to be open and honest with your partner about finances is before you join households. If not, you may find you’re in for some surprises you did not expect.
Money and Prenups
Once you’ve realized you and your partner have drastically different financial views and goals, it may be a good time to consider a prenup. Before you’re married is the best (and only) time you can create a legally-bound prenup. Although a prenup doesn’t change your differing views, it creates a written agreement that works to protect you in the event of a divorce.
For people who have hesitations or concerns about their partner’s spending habits, a prenup is an excellent way to alleviate some stress. Remember, you don’t need to be rich or make a lot of money to create a prenuptial agreement. Regardless of how many or how few assets you have, a prenup works to create a division and protection if you get a divorce. For example, if one partner racks up lots of credit card debt (from that impulsive type of money approach) you’ll be protected and not liable for their debt in the event of a divorce.
Approaching the topic of a prenuptial agreement with your partner can be difficult. For more information on tactics and approaches, check out our posts here to help guide your conversation. We offer many insightful blog posts to help couples like you create an affordable and reasonable prenuptial agreement.
Julia Rodgers is HelloPrenup’s CEO and Co-Founder. She is a Massachusetts family law attorney and true believer in the value of prenuptial agreements. HelloPrenup was created with the goal of automating the prenup process, making it more collaborative, time efficient and cost effective. Julia believes that a healthy marriage is one in which couples can openly communicate about finances and life goals. You can read more about us here Questions? Reach out to Julia directly at [email protected].