I believe that money issues are not really about money. They are about the emotions and values we place on money. We fight about the feelings we attach to money, what money means to us, and what we interpret about our partner’s relationship with money.
Let’s separate out the facts about money from the emotions and stop fighting about money!
First, stop looking for someone who is financially secure
When my clients make a list of ‘must-haves’ for their ideal match, they usually list financial security.
Ditch that. Instead, I suggest you search for someone with financial responsibility. After all, how can you be 100% secure with your money? You can lose your money in the stock market, you can get fired from a job, and you can have an accident that wipes out your finances.
Financial responsibility means spending within your means, investing your finances wisely for growth, and planning for retirement. Many people who remarry or enter long-term relationships in midlife want the reassurance that their partner is financially secure to guarantee that they’ll live a happy comfortable life together.
Sorry to disappoint, but even if someone has a good financial portfolio now, it’s not a guarantee that there will be money for the two of you to enjoy into the future. What if he has adult children who need his money?
Joe’s second wife had believed that with their combined finances, they’d live quite comfortably. They’d be able to travel and enjoy some of life’s luxuries. That never happened, because Joe ended up giving about $50,000 to his son who couldn’t find or keep a job. Then Joe got sick, and all of the rest of his money went to hiring full time care. Joe’s wife resented the fact that life didn’t turn out the way she’d imagined.
The problem was, they never talked about money effectively.
They didn’t discuss their expectations around money. They didn’t plan for the future. And when Joe made the decision to gift his money to his son without checking in with her, she was hurt. That doesn’t need to happen in your relationship.
As you can see, money doesn’t necessarily equal safety or security.
So, when you’re dating, instead of focusing on financial security as a ‘must-have’, look for a partner who manages their money well and lives within their means.
It’s also helpful to find a partner who enjoys spending money on the things that enhance their life and yours, like travel. And when you’re in a relationship, make sure you both feel comfortable talking about money. Take the emotion out of it and plan for your present and future.
We need to talk about money in the same way we talk about anything else. On a recent episode of Last First Date Radio, I interviewed Beau Henderson, a financial advisor, syndicated radio host and bestselling author. He shared five important money discussions every couple should have.
5 important money discussions every couple should have
#1. What’s coming in, what’s going out, where are we now?
If we don’t have this clear discussion, we make assumptions. If we have a real starting place, we will have clarity, which takes the emotion and heat out of the discussion.
#2. Get clear about goals and expectations.
Talk about how you both handle money. For example one partner might plan on retiring in two years, and the other plans to start a new business. Find out if there’s a middle ground where it can work.
#3. What are the roles you each play in your financial life?
One person is usually better at running the books. The other is better at big picture goals. One person should not run everything. Both should know what is going on. Schedule monthly talks about money. Make it a date night, with 30-minutes to talk through money goals.
#4. Discuss risk transfer.
Make sure insurances are covered. Talk about critical illness. Protect your assets. Is long-term care in place?
#5. Talk about estate planning.
Everyone needs a will, a financial power of attorney, a health care directive. What happens when you blend families? Spell it all out so it’s crystal clear.
When you’re dating, look for someone who is financially responsible and is comfortable talking about money. If he or she is defensive or is hiding anything related to finances, that’s a big red flag.
You want to rethink a relationship if he/she is unwilling to discuss money, lies about finances or doesn’t pay you back if he/she borrows money from you. Don’t ignore the red flags. They are much easier to walk away from before you get involved.
And after you’re in a relationship, talk about money. All aspects of money. Make dates to discuss money on a regular basis. There will be less fighting and more loving—guaranteed.
Can you think of a time when you fought about money, and it could have been avoided with clear conversations? Please share your thoughts below.
This article first appeared on goodmenproject.com