Even if you have a close relationship, it is often tricky to talk about money with your spouse. And tactful conversations get more challenging when you think your spouse is making financial mistakes.
Here are some core rules for discussing money with your spouse, so that any discussion about money will be as productive and pleasant as possible:
Talk openly about money
Marriage is a partnership, and handling money should be a joint effort. One spouse shouldn’t control all of the money on his or her own. This is true regardless of who the main breadwinner is, or even if one spouse is a stay-at-home parent.
Sometimes, partners can’t agree on which financial moves to make. If this is the case, defuse this emotional pressure by delegating the final decision to professionals, such as financial planners, investment advisors, or budget counselors.
Keep a record of all financial actions
Make sure both spouses keep a detailed record of all money transactions so that it will be easy to access data in the future. Detailed records also ensure that all financial topics are laid out openly on the table.
The financial record should include:
- Credit report (Don’t have a credit report, or want to learn more about it? Click here for more information.)
- Stock and bond reports (Find out what to look at on your brokerage statement by clicking here.)
- Bank account information
- Pay slips
- Financial plan
Once all this information is put together and out in the open, you can begin to work together. Start with a monthly at-home date to discuss your expenses. Make this date fun. Mix some fancy drinks, then sit down and talk about current expenses as well as both of your long-term wishes and dreams.
Never blame your spouse
Who knows? Maybe you are the cause of the problem!
Avoid blame as much as possible. If you want to change your spouse’s actions, start by changing yourself first. Focus on improving your own financial skills. For example, make sure you are following your budget and that you are separating your wants from your needs.
Agree on your spending priorities
Write down your decisions and monthly goals so that next month you could track your progress. Reward yourself for your accomplishments. Think together of ways you could improve your failures.
Spouses should follow the same spending priorities, so you can meet your joint goals, and ALSO set a good example for your kids. You should both agree on what you spend money on, and on what you don’t. Set a good financial example for your children, but even more important, show them that their parents are working together happily.
It’s also time talk about money with your children! Check out my podcast “Three Tricks to Teaching Your Kids about Money” so you will be up to date on the most successful educational tactics.
Douglas Goldstein, co-author of Rich As A King: How the Wisdom of Chess Can Make You A Grandmaster of Investing, is an avid chess fan, international investment advisor and Certified Financial Planner (CFP®).