For some people, talking about money is as pleasurable a way to spend time together as going for a long walk on the beach.
“I am a money nerd, so to me, talking about money is super fun, and I’ve paired up with someone who is the same,” says Kate Fries, a certified financial planner and financial advisor at The Family Firm in Bethesda, Maryland. “For us, talking about money is the same thing as talking about dreams. Where do we want to go, what do we want to build? It’s a fun conversation.”
But not everyone looks forward to money discussions. Finances can be a significant source of stress in a relationship. As Valentine’s Day approaches, here are some ways to make talking about money with your partner more enjoyable or at least less painful — and possibly even romantic.
FIRST, CONSIDER YOUR OWN MONEY VALUES
Before initiating a conversation about money with your partner, Eugenie George, a financial wellness expert based in Philadelphia , suggests taking time to reflect on your own money values. In other words, what do you want to prioritize when it comes to spending and saving? Answers could include community, adventure and fun, she says.
“You need to figure out yourself first,” George says.
SCHEDULE RECURRING ‘MONEY DATES’
George suggests starting the money conversation with your partner by asking about their values, which allows you to find common ground even if those values aren’t identical. “If your values aren’t lining up, it doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. You could be complementing each other,” she says.
In George’s case, her partner prefers spending on family experiences, like a good meal, while she likes spending more on larger group activities, such as parties. Once they understood and accepted their differences, she says it was easier to move forward and find shared goals, too.
Fries suggests having a money date with your partner at least quarterly to check in and review recent spending patterns and goals. “Make sure everyone’s tanks are full. You’ve slept and eaten, so you are coming with your best resources available. Maybe a cup of tea or a glass of wine and a candle, so you are associating positive things” with the ritual, Fries says.
As those conversations progress, it’s common to uncover conflicts or sources of tension, says Ed Coambs, a CFP and couples therapist in Charlotte, North Carolina. “One way to avoid that is to acknowledge it. Say, ‘Honey, money conversations have been difficult for …….