Most people grew up with the idea that money was a topic they were supposed to avoid talking about. And while you may be adverse to talking about money with your friends or family, it needs to be a regular part of every serious relationship. Money talks and regular budget meetings are how you and your significant other will check in on your financial situation.
However, many people are completely clueless when it comes to their family’s financial situation, and this is incredibly troubling.
According to a survey taken by Fidelity, 43% of respondents don’t know how much their partner earns and 36% are unaware of the amount they have invested.
There are even financial horror stories where one spouse has hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of debt while the other spouse has no clue that debt even exists. Or, one partner thinks the family is financially sound, when the reality is the exact opposite.
I can’t tell you how many times someone has told me that they have no idea what their mortgage or rent payment is, how much they are putting towards retirement, and whether or not they have any debt. This sort of stuff goes on and go.
Even more shocking is that many of these people can’t even give me a rough estimate! There are even times when one partner guesses and the other chimes in about how wrong they are.
Sadly, this is surprisingly common.
Just because it’s common, doesn’t mean it’s a good thing. Being unaware of your financial situation can be devastating to your financial stability.
If you aren’t having regular money meetings, you can wind up with more debt, being unprepared for retirement, and more. I know they can be difficult, but the sooner you start talking to your partner about your finances, the easier it will be to get on the same page.
Below are my top tips for successful money talks and family budget meetings.
Recognize why you need to have money talks and budget meetings.
A family who has regular money talks and budget meetings is more likely to be financially successful than a family that doesn’t. And, financial security can actually ease stress levels, which means you can focus your energy on other important aspects of your family. Plus, having regular money talks can add a greater sense of partnership to your relationship.
Here are several more ways for why you need to become aware of your financial situation through regular money and budget meetings:
- You can work together and succeed. Together, you can tackle your financial situation and will be much more likely to have a positive outcome when you are both putting effort towards your goals.
- A lack of money communication can lead to financial infidelity. According to an article on Forbes, 20% of those in the U.S. keep financial secrets and 7% of people between the ages of 18-49 have a secret bank account or credit card they keep from their partner. Read more at Financial Infidelity And The Problems It Can Create.
- Knowing your financial situation will help you keep a budget. When you become aware of each other’s income, are aware of your cost of living, and create savings goals, you can build and keep a budget that works for you. You will know how you are spending money as a family, whether or not you are living paycheck to paycheck, and more.
- Being aware may prevent everything from falling on one person. Both partner should be aware of their total financial situation because it’s not fair for one person to manage it all. Also, if one of you aren’t aware of what’s happening with your finances, you would be in for a rude awakening if something were to happen to the person that does.
- Being involved can help you with your family’s goals. It would be quite difficult for a person to work towards their family’s financial goals if they weren’t aware of their financial situation. Being involved can help keep you motivated and aware of what’s going on.
- Regular money talks can lead to less fighting. When you are open about money in your relationship, you are less likely to have financial surprises and money fights. Both of you will be aware of what’s going on when regular money talks and budget meetings are conducted, and this means no surprises. Also, when you do have regular money talks, it’s important to come in ready to work together. If you disagree with something your partner is doing, be calm and open to conversation.
Another thing you should start working on in your regular money talks is creating a financial emergency binder.
I highly recommend checking out the In Case of Emergency Binder to help you create your own emergency binder. This is a 100+ page fillable PDF workbook. The In Case of Emergency Binder was created to remove significant complications if an emergency arises and makes sure all of your important information is ready. The research is done for you, the workbook is divided into easy to follow sections, and everything you need is included. Please check it out here.
Even though no one wants to think about devastating emergencies, creating a family emergency binder will make it so much easier if something horrible ever does happen.
You can and should discuss how to be successful with your long-term plans.
Most people understand what a budget is, but many don’t understand how it can lead to long-term financial stability for you and your family. Your budget should show more than just how your income is going to pay your monthly bills, as it should also reflect where you and your family want to be for years and decades to come.
For some, these goals may seem far away, but a budget and regular money talks will make those long-term plans more attainable.
To keep your short and long-term goals in check, your budget meetings should cover:
- Your financial goals.
- Money values.
- How the family is doing financially.
- What changes need to be made.
- What the family’s budget is.
- How much is needed for retirement, and where you are on that track.
- Any financial problems, and so on.
There is no exact outline of what you should talk about in your money meetings because every family is different. But, any and everything related to finances should be on the table during money meetings.
The key to a successful meeting is that both of you are up-to-date on what is going on so you can work together towards your family’s financial goals.
It’s okay to have different opinions.
You and your spouse probably don’t agree on everything, and that may be even more true with your finances. There are lots of factors that will shape each person’s relationship and approach to money – how you grew up, your personality, your circle of friends, etc.
Part of being in a relationship is recognizing and embracing those differences. When it comes to money, it can be frustrating if you aren’t in complete agreement about things like spending and savings, but it’s not the end of the world.
You should be open to what your spouse has to say and work together towards finding a solution. Use your differences as a way to create a more nuanced and successful financial plan. They may feel very strongly about something for a good reason, and it might just make the type of change you need to get ahead.
The other thing with money talks and differing opinions is that you won’t know what your partner is thinking unless are talking about your finances in the first place. Without talking about money, there is a chance that you don’t even know or realize what your spouse thinks about a certain money situation!
Money and budget meetings should be held regularly.
Regularly communicating about money is an important step for every relationship. Being open about your financial situation can help prevent any surprises, it will ensure that both people in the relationship are aware of what’s going on, and so on.
A lack of communication is often cited as one of the biggest reasons that marriages fail, and it can be one of the biggest reasons you are failing with your finances. The sooner and more often you talk about money, the healthier that relationship will be.
You and your partner should sit down once a week, once a month, or whatever time frame works best for the two of you. Personally, I do not recommend going months at a time without talking about money. Too much can pop up in that length of time.
Plus, money talks and budget meetings do not have to be excruciatingly long, so there are no excuses for a lack of communication. You can have a quick 10 minute check in to see where you are at that week. Maybe one of you wants to make a large purchase, and a quick money talk will help you see if that’s possible. Now, you should still have larger financial conversations, but getting used to those small ones can ease you into the big ones.
Do you talk about money with your family? How often do you have budget meetings?