Step 1 – Identify Your Financial Personality and Spending Habits
What is the dream you have that money will serve?
Answering this question for yourself will go a long way to self-awareness about your values and beliefs around money.
Everyone is unique and has different values and beliefs concerning money. In addition, we are all brought up with different levels of financial literacy. The interaction between personality and the environment we are brought up in leads to specific financial personalities. It is important to know yourself and understand what issues around money you bring to the relationship.
Our personal beliefs and values drive our spending. To understand your spending habits, you therefore need to know your values. There are a number of free online personality tests out there that can help us get to know ourselves. Meditation also leads to a greater level of self-awareness.
To gain an understanding of your spending habits, you will need to start tracking your spending. This is where a number of people get stuck. You can first try yourself to do this but if you continue to put it off, then it might be a good idea to find someone to help you with this. There are a number of free websites and phone apps that will help you track your spending. Note that tracking your spending is not a quick project. To get a good understanding of what you spend your money, it is good to track your spending for at least six months. With time you come to understand the link between your spending habits and your personal values.
Step 2 – Talk with Your Partner
Once you have self-awareness around your financial personality and spending habits, you will want to talk about it with your partner. It is important that you both go into the meeting truly believing that neither one of you is controlling the agenda. Therefore, when you schedule the meeting, you will need to give your partner an idea of what you want to talk about and you will want to keep the topic as neutral sounding as possible. Better yet, your partner will already know because they have been tracking their own spending as you have.
If this is something you’ve taken on on your own, then here is a potential conversation starter:
“I would like to talk to you about household finances. I want to find out what is important to you and share what is important for me so our relationship can move forward successfully.”
Now don’t expect this to go over completely smoothly with your partner. We are trained from infant-hood and are biologically wired to see danger and conflict in even the most innocent sounding statements. Reassure your partner that you truly want the conversation to be collaborative and neutral.
You want to share what you are like with your partner and you want them to be open and share as well. This needs to be a non-judgmental process. If you are already knee deep in relationship woes because you are a different financial personality from your partner, you can still rescue your relationship by taking this step and it is really important that this discussion takes place on neutral ground at a an agreed upon time that is booked in advance. If this discussion at any point starts to get heated, then stop and make an appointment for another day. I also suggest you limit your talk to 45 minutes. Sometimes if you go too long you can go off track. If you don’t finish discussing everything within 45 minutes, schedule another meeting. In fact, it is a good idea to have regularly scheduled meetings. You can decide together the frequency of meetings that works best for your relationship.
Topics to talk about:
What you spend money on
What you absolutely must spend money on in order to feel life is worthwhile
How much money you need in the bank to feel safe
What you are willing to forgo spending money on to keep your relationship positive.
Do not state what you think is dumb to spend money on – this is not being non-judgmental and will shut down communication in about two seconds flat.
That should about cover it. Now you can see how easy it is to discuss and plan as opposed to having a relationship meltdown because you didn’t take these easy steps!