Whether you look in the US, UK or Australia (or pretty much anywhere else in the world) the leading cause for divorce and relationship breakdown is due to money. In fact in Australia a couple of months ago there was a report that stated 1 in every 2 couples are concerned about money and stress about it.
Why is money causing so much havoc in relationships and life in general?
Firstly, we don’t fully understand money. Let’s face it – we have never been taught in school how to manage it, what it’s for, how we can get it, how we can make more of it, how we can stop working for it etc. We have not received any financial literacy classes – we basically fumble our way through after we leave school and start working or wanting to invest.
We also receive training from our role models that we have seen growing up based on whether we actually have money or we didn’t have money or if there was conflict between our parents. Therefore, we have pre-conceived ideas about money and how it should be managed. This has resulted in different money styles with everyone around the world.
There are different styles for men and women (as sexist as that may sound) but on top of it you also have a style that you are bringing in based on your own pre-conceived ideas about money.
Let’s face it – money is still a taboo. In many western countries (and even some eastern countries) you can’t talk about money. In fact there are more people talking about sex than talking about money.
We must break that cycle.
How can we overcome the money stressor in your relationship or life?
First off you need to get comfortable talking about money.
Whether that means you actually start sitting down and doing some research around words that boost your financial vocabulary, or understanding how money works or bridging the conversations with people that you feel comfortable with and that you feel you might be able to talk to about money.
Basically – get comfortable with it!
Secondly start discussing money in your relationship very early on. Preferably before you move in together.
Talk about how would you manage your money if you were to move in together. Would you have joint finances? Would you have separate accounts for investments? Would you have separate accounts for savings? Would you have an account for each of you?
Personally, I find to feel independent in myself when I am in relationships, I want to have an account that is my slush fund. It has my allowance in there that I can do whatever I like with.
This leads to my next point, set boundaries.
If each of you have an allowance and that is what you have decided (whether it be weekly, fortnightly or monthly) make sure you set some boundaries. For example, that money will not be spent on anything else that you have jointly. Or perhaps that you will not cover for your partner unless there is a “paying back” rule in place.
Where ever you draw your line at, do it and stick to it.
Next – set common goals.
One of the common reasons why people struggle with money in relationships is due to the fact that each half wants to go in a different direction without previously discussing anything.
Sit down, take time and set common goals.
What is it that you want to achieve as a couple? How are you going to do it? What do you need to set up?
Finally start automating those transactions so neither of you have to manage the payments!
Make sure that you take the time to sit down and review. Are the systems that you set up working for everybody? If not, how do you need to change it? Are your common goals being reached? Are they being reached at the rate that you wanted it to occur? If not, why?
Sitting down and taking the time to discuss should occur weekly at a minimum.
Let me know if you have any questions!