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How To Have Better Conversations About Money With Your Spouse — 3 Simple Rules

2021 is right around the corner, which means so is budget creation season. 

Conversations around money almost always produce a high level of emotion. In fact, it’s the cause of the majority of relationship conflicts.

Most people make the mistake of approaching these conversations in a purely rational way — this is our goal and this is what we need to accomplish it. It’s math.

But the truth is, conversations about money are more emotional than rational because it’s extremely personal and is tied to our values, our insecurities, and our upbringing.

How comfortable you are with these conversations can be traced back to your childhood. Whether your household strictly stuck with a budget or spent freely can have a significant impact your lifelong spending habits.

Even though these conversations are highly emotional, they are extremely important and need to be had. Here are some tips to resolve conflicts around money.  

According to Patrice Washington, personal finance expert, bestselling author, and host of the Redefining Wealth Podcast, there are some simple, yet effective ways to navigate these conversations. 

1.) Understand Financial Blueprints 

In order to truly have a fruitful and productive conversation, you should have an understanding of your background, the background of your partner, and the emotions both of you attach to money (a.k.a. financial blueprints). 

There’s no judgment, it’s all about creating understanding through sitting down,

listening and reflecting. Here are some questions you can ask yourself and the other party to get a better understanding of both of your financial blueprints: 

  • What did you learn about money when you were growing up? 
  • What were the influential people in your life telling you about money? 
  • Did your household have a budget? 
  • What were the attitudes like of the members of your household around money? 
  • Were financial situations openly discussed? 

Feel free to share stories. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and empathize. Note that neither of you are wrong in this conversation. This exercise is simply to grasp a better understanding and background of each other, leading to a more pain free and quicker resolution to the conflict. 

2.) Talk About OUR Way 

When you have a better understanding of each other’s financial blueprints, you are now able to move the conversations towards the questions of “What is our way?”

Not your way, not my way, but our way. 

It’s important to note that there is no total objectively right way to handle finances, so having a conversation that is geared towards finding a common ground solution is the key to success. 

For example: if one party enjoys going on elaborate shopping sprees, instead of saying “absolutely not” ask them to have a set budget or even use coupons for that shopping spree. 

This is a negotiation.

You should still make sure this compromised resolution sits okay with you, but as in any negotiation, the outcome being a win-win should be our goal. 

3.) Quit Nagging, Start Leading 

Set an example for the type of behavior that you wish to see in others. This way when questions come up, you are better suited to answer them by having lived them. It’s also more persuasive than nagging, which creates resistance and resentment.

Remember, you can’t force anyone to do anything, but you can be the best possible example you can be. This will create the magnet that draws them in and the rock they can lean on when things get difficult. 

In order to truly make these conversations work, both parties have to be respectful and understanding of each other. You should also note that this steady common ground won’t happen overnight. It takes weeks, months, and sometimes years to change ingrained habits. 

This is especially true if someone was born into a household where budgets were non-existent. The key, here, is to be patient and understanding of the process and progress. 

Click here to hear Patrice Washington discuss how to have better conversations about money.

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