Money. Although it’s everywhere in our lives, many of us have a hard time talking about it. No matter the company, money can be a taboo topic. Like it or not, you’re in a relationship with your money. This relationship is much closer than many others in your life. However, just like any relationship, it takes maintenance and constant attention to make sure it stays on track. So what are some things to keep in mind when talking about money?
The First Step is the Hardest
For many people, the reason they shy away from the money topic goes back to their upbringing. Either their family talked a lot about money because they fought about it a lot, or it was never an issue or conversation. Both of those approaches can lead to problems with communication around money.
No matter what, starting to have those difficult conversations is the hardest but also most important step. Once you have breached the topic the first time, every time after that becomes a little easier. Think of it as a continuous dialogue and create an environment of openness and honesty; failure to do so will create hurdles in any relationship, especially between spouses.
Money and Relationships
The dynamic in a relationship is always about striking a balance, through compromise or preferences. Money is the same way. Many times one person in a relationship will take care of the money matters; paying the bills, keeping an eye on savings, and managing cash flow. Maybe they are better at it, maybe their partner doesn’t care, or in some cases it just needs to get taken care of.
This division can create a power dynamic that can go poorly quickly, unless both people are aware of what is going on. Even if you aren’t the one handling the money, sit down and make sure you know what needs to happen every month. Doing so will not only help you to understand what to do if you need to take over in an emergency, but also where you can lend a hand.
Getting on the same page is purely about information. You need to share information with each other so that you can make informed decisions as a partnership. One of the most important things to remember is when you are discussing money with anyone, try to leave emotion out of the conversation. Money is already an emotionally charged topic, there’s no need to make it any more dynamic.
Getting Your Affairs in Order
Estate planning is another common area where people get into trouble. Not only making sure their own affairs are in order, but talking with aging parents to get the whole story. Many times, families and spouses are saddled with debt when a loved one passes away, especially if it is unexpected. Taking the time to not only figure out if your estate is planned out but also getting on the same page about debts and holdings is incredibly important.
Having that conversation with a parent can be very difficult, especially if they haven’t begun to take care of their estate planning. Many parents can see it as giving up control of their life while others have a hard time admitting that they are aging. It is important to get your entire family involved and let your parents know that you want to get on the same page so that they don’t need to worry about being a burden.
Making sure that there is not only a will, but establishing power of attorney as well as making sure accounts are able to be accessed after their passing are some of the most important steps. Find time to have an ongoing conversation with them and make sure they know that you are looking out for their needs.
In the end, relationships are built on trust. Having these tough conversations helps to build and strengthen that trust. Be open and honest about your finances in your relationships to avoid stress and conflict down the road.