What are your plans for Valentine’s Day? Shoppers in the UK are expected to spend around £1 billion this year, although it seems that spending declines with age. Maybe the attraction of spending money on gifts fades over time, but it could be the ideal opportunity to talk about something many of us avoid. Not money, as such, but longer-term goals that you would like to achieve with your partner.
Of course, working out how to pay for these goals brings the conversation back to finance again. A quick internet search shows that money is one of the top reasons for argument in couples, but the root cause can be a whole host of underlying reasons. Here are three tips to help avoid some of the most common causes of money fall-outs.
1. Partner up with a joint account for shared spending
Lots of couples have a joint account, but the trick is to use the account in the right way. It’s uncommon for partners to earn a similar level of income, so tensions can often rise when it’s all bundled up and shared absolutely.
Rather than use a joint account for all income and spending, it’s often better for each partner to have their own account for their salary or pension. Use the joint account for household essentials like the mortgage or rent, bills and food etc. Standing order payments towards joint goals like holidays and savings can also come out of that account. You just need to agree a fair amount that each of you should pay into the joint account each month to cover all the payments.
That leaves each partner with a degree of autonomy and complete control of their remaining income. Of course, you have to make sure you don’t over-spend your remaining cash. Dipping into the joint account for personal spending takes you back into tense territory again, so both parties need to take responsibility.
2. Take time to learn about each other’s money personality
Everyone has a unique set of beliefs, attitudes and habits when it comes to money. They say that opposites attract and it’s very common for couples to have diametrically opposed money personalities.
One partner may casually click ‘buy now’ on a daily basis, while the other half threatens to cut up their cards and cancel the Amazon account. On the other hand, the spender may feel frustration at their ‘miserly’ partner, who just doesn’t know how to live a little.
Neither behaviour is right or wrong and both can have a negative impact on wellbeing. The important thing is to recognise each other’s differences and to talk about it.
A great exercise to try this Valentine’s Day is the Money Habitudes game. For a few dollars, you can each complete an online card game and receive a report on your money habits and attitudes, together with suggestions on how to develop a more balanced approach.
You can read more about Money Habitudes in my earlier blog here.
3. Discuss your long-term goals on Valentine’s Day
Do you remember the thrill of young love, full of chatter about an exciting future together? Aspirations of travel, exploring the outdoors, finding the ideal home? Then over time, stuff gets in the way. Work, kids, family responsibilities, mortgage and loan repayments, redundancy, ill health and the list goes on.
It’s easy to lose the excitement of those early dreams and we just assume, or hope, it’ll happen eventually. Maybe at retirement age. One day.
But don’t forget what brought you together in the first place. Discuss common ground and revive the excitement of planning for the future. Even though certain goals may be years away, talk about them and plan for them.
Remember, a goal without a plan is just a wish. Unfulfilled goals can be a source of resentment, so make time to listen to each other’s goals and plan for them together.
Planning for the future can be an exciting challenge, yet it’s something that few couples take the time to do properly. Creating plans that take account of your different money personalities can be a powerful way to work together and appreciate each other.
It might not sound very romantic, but couples’ financial coaching can be a great way to re-kindle the spark and excitement of planning for the future. It just needs an open mind, time and a desire to progress.
Happy Valentine’s Day and get in touch if you’d like to make a start on building your financial future.