Financial intimacy is ignited by being honest, transparent, and clear in discussing our financial affairs with our partners. Although it may seem gauche to mention the subject of money, if there is not financial clarity in a partnership, intimacy will inevitably suffer.
Having the “money conversation” is intimidating. It can set off a disastrous truth bomb if done without mindfulness and empathy. Although money touches every area of our lives, what would you rather do than sit down and get real about money with your partner? I bet the list is long.
Raychl and I have both procrastinated on having the money conversation with our partners, and in the past and I have often chosen less favorable times to attempt the topic. The timing, tone, location, body language, and intent of the conversation can have dramatic effects on your remaining morning, evening, or vacation. I promised my wife I would never again talk about money on our date nights or early mornings, while Raychl and her husband agreed to talk only when their heads are clear, hearts are open, and kids are in bed.
How can we develop a healthier relationship around one of the most sensitive topics? We conducted a survey among our friends and professional networks and came back with a few suggestions.
Agree to be honest and transparent.
Stay clear of judging your partner or yourself, establishing a judgment-free zone.
Try to speak in terms of “I” versus “you,” and become an observer of your opinions, rather than offering your opinions as truths.
Set the scene. Do not try to have this conversation around kids, in public spaces, or while the vehicle is in motion.
Find ways to make it fun and light-hearted, such as a Margarita Money Meeting (the MMM).
What can make the money conversation with our partners more productive? This is where technology comes to the rescue.
There are numerous software programs that can help anyone get organized with both budgets and investments. At Aspen Women’s Wealth, we love the power of financial aggregation, defined as connecting all the parts of your financial life together to get a clear snapshot of total net worth.
The most popular programs are Mint, Personal Capital, YNAB (you need a budget), Monarch Money, and HoneyDue. Each program has its strengths and limitations. Some are free, while others have modest fees, so explore each site and be clear about your needs. I favor Personal Capital for its combined strengths in both budgets and investment analysis. Raychl enjoys using Mint’s budgeting and cash flow tools, over revising the old Xcel spreadsheet.
While it certainly requires effort, getting all your affairs connected, and the commitment to keep the data flowing, your invested time is more than rewarded with a few simple clicks. A clear and accessible financial snapshot can eliminate the anxiety a partner can feel when left in the dark.
When using these tools, the following financial reports can provide key insights into a couple’s affairs:
An inventory of all your assets (checking accounts, financial, retirement, home, etc..) and your liabilities (including credit card accounts).
An income statement comparing all sources of income to spending. This is often the source of most domestic money disputes.
A specific inventory of your investment accounts including the name of the firm, contact info, and account numbers.
A detailed performance summary and allocation report of your financial assets.
If you can automate just a few of the reports above, you will be more organized than 90% of couples and hopefully eliminate some stress and anxiety in your relationship.
As we head toward Valentine’s Day, let us give our partners the gift of financial intimacy and understanding by finding a helpful tool and investing the time, patience, and consistency to make those money talks less dreaded and more productive. This way our date nights are reserved for more pleasurable and important things.
Editor’s note: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a recommendation to buy or sell a security nor considered a recommendation to utilize the services of a specific firm.