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Live and Learn

Personal finance topics with a real world touch... 
and puns, because they make everything more amusing.

Money and your honey, pt.1

I admit, in my marriage I handle most of the day to day (... month to month, year to year) duties that involve money.  I'm not going to tell you there's one way to make it all work, but do know that it is important for both parts of a couple to know what's up with the finances.  No secrets, no heads in the sand, no "I make more so I decide more".   I get it though.  For many people, talking about money is something they avoid at all costs.  (See what I did there?  You come here for the humor, I just know it.)  I could site studies that show that people would rather talk about their own death than about financial stuff, but you don't need that to know what's what.  Let's just see what happens when the balance is off, and figure out what to do about it.

Often, couples tend to handle money on a “need to know” basis. One deals with it and the other doesn’t need to worry about it, so they never think about it.  What's the problem with that?  Well, when we do something often, we become better at it and more knowledgeable. Great, but what about the other half of the couple?  The less involved person is losing out on opportunities to learn and grow their skills.  It's a downward cycle as one person learns more, the other gets further and further away from being able to take care of things, leaving them vulnerable.  And the person holding more responsibility can get overwhelmed with the burden of being the only person aware of financial issues.

While it often makes sense for one person to take the lead, finances need to be a joint project.  But how?

  1. Start talking about the fun stuff.  What do you want to do in your life together?  This part doesn't need to be about money, it's just to get you talking about shared goals.   

  2. Discuss how your goals fit with your current financial habits.  Of course we all hope this is a pleasant conversation, though odds are pretty good that there will be points of disagreement.

  3. Decide what you'll keep doing and what you'll tweak.

  4. Check in monthly to make sure you both are comfortable with how it's working out.

  5. Get online access for shared bank accounts and investments. Maybe even the ones that aren't shared since if something happens, you'll need to know where everything is.

So what if your partner isn't on board with talking about money? Well, 80-90% of women will be solely responsible for their own finances at some point in their lives, mainly due to divorce and the fact that on average women outlive men by seven years. (Yes, I'm mainly addressing women with this point, but the tips are general enough to apply to everyone.) You need to look out for yourself, even if life seems rosy right now.

Start talking with friends about what you want to know more about. Learn more, empower yourself. Read books, join women’s finance facebook groups, read women’s finance blogs. Just be wary of anyone who has all the answers. Quick solutions, easy money, one-size-fits-all are pretty much universally bad ideas.

I know this may start to get a bit scary, but it really is one of those things that you could end up kicking yourself later for not trying to fix. Start small, build your confidence around personal finance, and you may surprise yourself.

If you would like some helping sorting out money issues in your relationship, I'm here to chat. Let's hop on a video call to see how I can get you, your honey, and your money all on the same page.

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