Jul 10, 2019
Last time we talked about how to approach “the money conversation” with your fiancé/S.O. by looking at your own past, present & future relationship with money. Now that you’ve examined your own relationship with money, you can get the conversation started with your partner. I’m not going to dive into the nitty-gritty of how to set up a budget (because you can all read that here!!!!). Instead, I’m sharing 5 practical things you can do to make this process successful, smooth, and FUN!
So, I’m gonna cut to the chase: here are five practical things that you can do to have a great experience planning financially with your fiancé.Be open and honest and judgment-free. Get it all out there, folks. If you’re combining your finances, then exaggerating or hiding certain elements of your spending will only make it harder when your partner finds out later down the road. Welcome questions from the other person. Give your partner plenty of time to share. Additionally, your attitude toward your S.O. should be totally and completely JUDGEMENT FREE. This is not the time to criticize or laugh at the fact that they eat frozen vegetables and rice every single night to save money (I’m looking at YOU, 24-year-old, Hannah!). This is also not the time to “fix” the other person’s habits or suggest improvements. Share it all, and then be open to what the other person has to say. Ultimately, you’ll be able to combine your philosophies to make the best plan for your new family!
#1. Dream about your future together.
If you’re engaged, you’ve hopefully already done a lot of this! Dreaming together is a bonding experience that makes it way easier to put together a budget. If you’re getting excited about the same things, then you’ll both be more willing to put away money for those things. Share your personal dreams with one another. Talk about which of your current spending and savings habits will contribute or detract from those big life goals – both personally and as a couple. Do you dream of traveling the world for an extended period of time or buying a big home in the fancy-pants part of town? Or maybe you just dream of getting out of debt by the time you’re 40? Take time to appreciate the other person’s dreams and examine which truly make sense to work towards in the future. Be open to shifting your own dreams or adding his/her dreams to your own list. Over the last 5 years, Ev & I have both changed a lot. Our goals now are different than when we were engaged, and are also somehow way more cohesive and unified. So, dream big together! This is something that should totally happen before you start looking at the actual numbers!
#2. Don’t assume the person who is more inclined to save is “better.”
Evan and I are both more of savers than spenders, but of the two of us, Evan was definitely the more . . . uh . . . “frugal” (the man calculated the cost of each meal so he could spend as little as possible on food every day). When we were together, I was often the one suggesting we do fun activities that cost money, like “splurging” on a non-kid-sized cone (read the first post in this series to hear more about dat). When we got married, I kind of felt like we’d have to start following his philosophy of spending because it was somehow more righteous/valiant/“better” than my own – and he never even suggested this himself! I had internalize this idea that saving was always the “right” thing to do. But the truth is that spending $60 on groceries every month is not the BEST way to live (surprise! LOL). Also, saving without a designated reason is called HOARDING and is also not a good thing. The way we balance each other out is actually really healthy for BOTH of us and should be celebrated!
#3. Make a budget, but give yourselves grace.
Planning a budget that will make you both happy and that you both can follow easily and that achieves all your life goals as soon as you get married and/or combine finances is . . . unrealistic. So when you draw up your first budget, hold it with a loose grip. If you’re the more black-and-white, rules-oriented person, this is particularly important for you. Don’t get angry or make your partner feel guilty when she impulsively buys those moon boots in your first month of marriage. Adjusting to a budget takes time. Conversely, if you’re like me and frequently live life ~in the gray~, then show your partner that you can, in fact, exhibit self-control and celebrate the small victories of NOT impulse-buying. Budgeting together is a process. One more note about this – you’re probably going to have to make several adjustments in the first year alone. Even now, we frequently make little adjustments to accommodate our ever-changing lives. We also sometimes go over budget, and that is OK. Work at it little-by-little and don’t stress!
#4. Remember that you’re on the same team.
While it may feel like you’re battling against one another for financial control, the truth is that you’re on the same team. If you’re sharing your life, then you’re also sharing life goals. And if you’re sharing life goals, then you’re looking to achieve the same general things with your money. If you’re really struggling to agree on a budget or big saving goals, it may be a good idea to take a step back and examine if you really are on the same page.
#5. Make it fun!
Before you start rolling your eyes at the idea of finances being fun . . . let’s remember what a certain magically nanny told Jane and Michael Banks about tidying the nursery in 1964 . . .
(and as a side note, anybody else digging Winifred Banks’ vibes rn?)
Back to fun-having: I encourage you all to make this a fun event – something to look forward to. This is the next big step in your relationship! And while some people (like me and Ev . . . maybe just me and Ev?) get super excited about finances without helping ourselves to “a spoonful of sugar,” most people are not naturally inclined to make budgets or create savings goals. Why not add in something that is uniquely fun to YOU to make this process a joy? Go out for dessert, cook your favorite meal together or order from your favorite take-out spot and make a date night of it. This should not be something you dread. It’s EXCITING to plan for your future lives together, guys!!!
So there’s our 2 cents (actually 2.5 cents according to our budget JK LOL) on having a successful budgeting conversation with your Fi. We’d love to hear what’s working for you, too! Please share stories or other insights with us in the comments section below!