Photography, Priscilla Du Preez, Unsplash.com
Isn’t love grand? We meet, we lock eyes, and with the touch of Cupid’s arrow, we are in love and our financial goals meld perfectly with that special someone...but more times than not, the scenario doesn’t exactly play out that way.
Sometimes our ideas about spending and saving are different from the start of a relationship, and sometimes they change over time. Whatever the case, there are ways to align your objectives.
Change is hard, and change within a relationship can be especially difficult because there are two of you to consider. Differing financial aims can cause stress and make you feel like you have to choose between following your dreams and being committed to a joint plan. The increase in tension may lead to more fights than usual, irregular spending patterns and sometimes even secrets. Navigating growth and shifting financial targets can seem like you’re walking through a minefield. Creating a strategy is key!
Here are five tips for joining financial forces:
1. Acknowledge the tension and stress between you and your partner. Pretending to yourself, your partner and everyone else takes precious energy that could be used to work through the issues. Be honest, and be willing to put in the effort to resolve the situation. If you’re both committed to supporting each other’s growth, most wrinkles can be ironed out.
2. Do your own work — each of you. This requires looking inward and reflecting on who you were when you started your relationship, who you are now and who you want to be in the future. What values were you living by then, and now? What values do you want to carry forward? How has your evolution as
a person changed how you interact with money? Has aging affected your financial relationship with your partner? What’s working? What’s not? If you had a magic wand, who would you be, financially speaking? These are big questions, and you may not have a big “eureka” moment of clarity and answers. But as you reflect on how you’ve changed, you discover more about yourself, as will your partner.
3. Be willing to share your discoveries with your partner and take part in their exploration, too. We forget that, as a couple, we can go through the same event, year, even a whole life together, and each person will have experienced it completely differently. It’s important to give your self and your partner some grace and latitude, as your goals may be different than when you first met.
4. Go deeper with the conversation by talking about each of your goals and what they mean to you and to your household. Why is this financial goal important to you or your partner? Is there risk to pursuing this goal? What are the opportunity costs (basically, what are you giving up) by focusing on this goal?
5. Look for ambitions that overlap with your partner’s. Are there some shared objectives you can work on together? Is there room in your financial circumstances for each of you to pursue a solo goal? It may take longer to achieve, as you each focus on something important to you, but it allows you both to have your own interests.
While our parents told us that relationships and marriage are hard, they may not have given us a roadmap for navigating the winding journey. So, we must forge on ahead, with values and open communication in hand, and determine how we’re going to get there together.
Stacy Yanchuk Oleksy is chief executive officer at Credit Counselling Canada.
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