Here’s 1 Key to a Personal Finance Partnership
There are so many great ideas for improving one’s personal financial situation. But that’s just it. A lot of those tips are for “one,” not for partners. There are some books (e.g. Financial Bliss by Bambi Holzer), a few blogs, and several studies out there regarding love and money, but not enough.
However, I personally believe that one simple step would do more good in a couple’s personal finances than anything else. And in spite of the fact that we teach budgeting every day at Debt Reduction Services Inc, it’s not a budget (GASP. Though, that may be a good next step).
The first step is usually even easier and less time-consuming. In order to maintain a balanced partnership, both partners must simply write down mutually agreed upon goals that are then posted where they can be seen by both partners regularly. Locations may include the bedroom mirror, near the calendar, on the fridge, or at the computer. If you are doubting the effectiveness of this exercise, let me explain it further.
First of all, this turns the couples’ finances into a team effort. That’s part of a relationship after all, isn’t it? To partner and work together? On many occasions, money can make individuals feel as though the opposite is true.
If financial goals are not discussed, not agreed upon, not reviewed, not tracked, then finances can all too easily devolve into a competition or, worse, a grudge match. When it comes to money and relationships, rather than one-on-one (where there is only one winner), think one-and-one (where there are at least two winners).
Next, posting the goals establishes accountability and reminds both partners to do their part to work toward these common objectives. Placing a family photo in the same vicinity may lend a vision of the bliss you are working to continue with efforts made each day.
Lastly, this exercise establishes an open line of communication and keeps the conversation ongoing. Couples who see the goals will remember to celebrate their progress often, change directions, or set new, bigger goals.
So the next time you think that money is the cause of most divorces in this country, remember that money is only a tool. If we handle it as a team, our money and marriage will see a successful future.
Here’s a link to the FTC’s budget planner. A budget is still not what I think is most important in marital financial bliss, but rather the shared financial goals. So while completing this budget form, be sure to discuss and add some to the top of the page. Finding a way to agree on common goals is a feat you’ll never regret it.
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