5 Money Conversations Every Couple Must Have

It’s not polite to talk about money!”

was the advice I always heard from my Grandmother. Did you hear it too? Ironically, not talking about money is what gets most people into trouble, especially when it comes to couples. When two people put their lives together, it’s easy to spot problems involving extra stuff like furniture. It’s not so easy to spot the money problems . . . until something goes wrong. Don’t wait until that happens!

Money related issues are the #1 cause cited for divorce and break ups. Take the lead and take care of your relationships by having the following 5 Conversations with your partner about money.

Conversation #1 Where are we now?

We all have financial goals. Do you know what yours are? Are they the same as your partner? 

Is this where you check out of the financial conversation?

Start by looking at where you both are right now with regards to your finances.  The first step to financial success is the creation of two important financial documents: the income statement and balance sheet. These two statements will tell you your cashflow and net worth

  • Cashflow is King: Your income statement includes all sources of money, including the regular paycheck and any other income streams. It also shows what is going out – the expenses and bills you pay.  Remember it’s all relative, the couple that has $500,000 coming in and $550,000 going out is not as rich as the couple with $60,000 coming in and $40,000 going out.  Couple 2 is at least in a position to save, invest, and plan for the future.
  • Your balance sheet has two columns and can be divided simply as What we Owe and What we Own and gives you a snapshot in time of where you stand financially.
  • Last of all comes the budget – the tool to get you from where you are to where you want to be.

Conversation #2  What I want, what you want, and what really works – without sparks having to fly.

Now that you have a clear picture of where you are, ask each other, where would you like to go? Talk about a 1 year, 3 year, and 10 year goals. Identify what can be done on a daily basis to move you closer towards the mutual goals. For example, if you’d both like to own a home in 5 years, one of you might focus on putting in over-time to increase income. The other might focus on cutting expenses and paying down debt.

Conversation #3 What Are Our Risks?

Your chances of success increase by the amount of risk you are able to transfer. Read that again, because it goes against what most of us are used to hearing. Many couples do not want to face risk because they fear that the problem may be harder to fix than to ignore. Take a look at the areas where you are vulnerable.

Are you protected against the 4 Thieves that can take you and your family out of the game?

Premature Death

-Disability

-Law Suites

-Erosion factors such as inflation, taxes, unnecessary fees.

Identifying the weak areas is the first step towards improving them.

Conversation #4 Money Beliefs

It’s not uncommon for couples to have very different views on money. Take a look at how each of you talk and think about finances.

Does money grow on trees? Is it the root of all evil? Does high risk equal high return? Do you care more about security and safety?

Since you’re both talking about it, seek to understand where your partner is coming from. How they grew up thinking about money can help explain differences that may otherwise only show up when there is a problem. 

Conversation #5 – Final Wishes

This is not an easy subject to bring up, but it’s unavoidable. If something were to happen to one of you today, would the other know what to do? Unnecessary stress can be avoided by simple things such as knowing how to retrieve important financial documents, learning the names and location of investment accounts and understanding what is in the will. Talking about your spouse’s final wishes now will give you both peace of mind later. You both want to do right by each other.

Having money conversations doesn’t have to be stressful or unpleasant!

If you have it now, before the problems show up, it can even be enjoyable and rewarding. Setting aside the time to ask and answer the hard questions now is an investment in the RichLife you are building together.   Put it in the calendar today and make it a date.

What is the first money conversation you need to have together?

About Beau Henderson

Beau Henderson is a financial advisor, author, coach, radio personality, and CEO of RichLife Advisors. He has helped over 3,000 clients to not just improve their relationship with money, but to live the life of their dreams.

33 Comments

  1. Annemarie Cross on February 25, 2011 at 2:47 am

    So very true Beau. A great step-by-step outline as to how couples can broach this often, difficult topic! After all, we all have our family money legacies (and unfortunate habits that goes along with it!) that often can clash with our spouse. Loved the article!



  2. denny hagel on February 25, 2011 at 8:07 am

    In my work as a parent coach I am often asked to help parents help their children deal with the pain of divorce and we all know the increase in divorce is staggering…most often reason for divorce is problems revolving around money! Thanks for sharing this valuable info…



  3. Lily Iatridis on February 25, 2011 at 9:17 am

    Thanks for the reminder to work on #5! My DH and I defintely have a little block on that subject. So tough when you can’t agree on who should take care of the kids in case we both …you-know-what. (See? I can’t even write it.)

    Lily



  4. Nancy on February 25, 2011 at 9:24 am

    My ex and I were pretty well-aligned when it came to money. But now I’m living with someone whose relationship with money is WAY different from mine. It is one of the few things that challenges our connection at times, so I can feel how essential your suggested conversations are to any couple thinking of marriage.



  5. Susan McKenzie on February 25, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Beau, I love how you present this vital information in such simple and practical steps. This financial information will help us all to leave a richer legacy for the next generation! Thanks so much!



  6. Debra Pickford on February 25, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Those questions should be part of a premarital counseling!!I”m sure the divorce rate would go down if couples did talk about money!! Great, informative information.



  7. Claudia Looi on February 25, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    A great guideline for couples to have when talking about money. I help families with life insurance and debt reduction at one point of my life part-time. I have been to families where none of what you lay out was discussed. Those are the families that are in great financial chaos. Great article!



  8. Beau Henderson on February 25, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Lily, those are tough decisions expecially if you have different ideas about what happens with the kids. Many times I do not find a perfect solution, but an OK solution that is agreed to as a work in progress that can be updated or changed in the future. At least with the OK solution something is in place that is acceptable.



  9. Sean Smith on February 26, 2011 at 1:24 am

    Love it, Beau. As you said, these are sensitive subjects that so many of us would rather avoid than confront… and that’s DANGEROUS! Thanks for making these conversations okay to have. ~SS



  10. Deb on February 26, 2011 at 4:32 am

    Loved your article Beau! You provide well written, simple steps for us to follow to make the conversation easy. Thanks for that!



  11. Elvie on February 26, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Really good information. Surprisingly, I did tackle conversation #5, and to make it more palatable, I wrote it out as “Planning For The Unlikely!” Good blog!



  12. Sharon O'Day on February 27, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Beau, one of the quotes I put up on FB that got the greatest reaction was “Before you exchange vows and rings, be sure to exchange credit reports.” While lots of people took it literally, I was referring to two people having a real dialog about individual finances. This article goes on to the next step: how to HAVE that dialog. Such a valuable contribution!



  13. Beau Henderson on February 27, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Yes Sean,
    The price we pay to have the hard conversations now is far less than the potential cost in the future.



  14. Beau Henderson on February 27, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    I like that Elvie! “Planning For The Unlikely!”



  15. Beau Henderson on February 27, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    I love that Sharon. It’s all about being honest and straight forward up front good and bad.
    At least that way there are no surprises when life happens…



  16. Carol Giambri on February 27, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    Beau, excellent post. Life happens and “suddenly” moments come to some — not all. However, money talk is sometimes a hard conversation, with one seeing money differently and lots of sparks that come from what I see as a “normal” conversation. Now I am seeing second chances to move ahead and investing in myself to make it happen for “us” and others. It’s a tough “sell” to someone who can’t see the light. I am not comfortable today knowing what tomorrow will bring if I sit still and not take action to change the “screen.” I’m in “GOLD” program. If it’s going to be it’s up to ME”



  17. Victoria Gazeley on March 12, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    So critical – and something so many do not do (as I’m sure you’ve seen over and over again). Amazing how something so central to our lives has been so incredibly taboo to discuss. With articles like this, it will be no longer!



  18. OLga Hermans on June 23, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    These are some very important questions Beau; my husband and I have talked about them but not talked them through if that makes any sense…it is an easy way out to talk about things, very deceiving at times. Thanks!



  19. Susan Preston on October 19, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Wonderful tips, Beau! Thank you, for sharing them 🙂



  20. Kim Garst on October 19, 2011 at 10:21 am

    All great tips, Beau! Our biggest struggle has been the last one…who wants to address the end? My husband has his wishes and they aren't what I want for him. I have had to get over what I want and realize it isn't about me and promise to honor what he wants. 



  21. Peggy Malone on October 19, 2011 at 11:09 am

    Great reminder to keep talking.  My spouse and I are in the process of reviewing these conversations right now and it is such a relief to get on the same page and take care of these details!



  22. Elise Adams on October 19, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    Such an important article.  Thank you for laying it out so succinctly and yet kindly.  So often this topic seems overwhelming yet I've found that 'practice makes perfect'.  When we have this talk regularly it gets a LOT easier!



  23. shelley on October 19, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    this is such an important post beau! you should see about putting it on every wedding site, for couples first starting out because it is so true that so many people split over money…. and i'd like to know what your thoughts are for number 3.



  24. Norma Doiron@Health, Wellness & Weight Loss on October 19, 2011 at 8:49 pm

     
    This is the one I like the most:  #2  What I want, what you want, and what really works – without sparks having to fly.  Absolutely!  I believe there has to be an understand on this BEFORE entering a partnership with anyone.  GREAT post!  Love it…
    Norma Doiron @ The LEARNED Preneur ╰☆╮



  25. Lorii Abela on October 19, 2011 at 9:32 pm

     
    Great blog.  You provide good insight.



  26. Jennifer Bennett on October 19, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    Great article and what a great reminder about the discussions we should be having with our loved ones!  Thanks for this!  



  27. Carl Mason-Liebenebrg on October 20, 2011 at 2:58 am

    Fantastic article filled with valuable reminders, tips and information. This certainly can be a hard subject overall and some of the points in particular can themselves feel near impossible to explore. Yet, we must! Thank you!



  28. Michelle on October 20, 2011 at 11:52 am

    My husband and I are budget counselors and we consistently walk folks through what should be simple steps to understanding their financial situation.  Time and again we see that people tend to hide from their bills, paying only what must be paid at the moment.  It is so freeing to understand where you stand financially so you can set goals to improve and prepare!  Great post, Beau.



  29. Solvita on October 20, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    I love your articles, they take a lot of emotion out of the 'money' subject, and give so much clarity to people. Great job Beau!



  30. Ingrid on October 20, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    Talking about money should be a requirement before getting a marriage license.  Great points!



  31. Linda Jo Jenkins on October 20, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Interesting post and so very true!!



  32. John Murphy on October 20, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    This is a great list! To me, the hardest part is aligning your wealth with your values and trying to figure out how to keep your wealth from screwing up your kids. The fact is that most people hate talking about money, so this is a good reminder of what's at stake.



  33. Mary Kate on October 21, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Great article, Beau! My hubbie and I take time monthly and quarterly to review our goals and make sure we are 'on the same page.' In the past, before we started doing this regularly, the 'sparks' would fly. But no longer!  Thanks for the reminders! Blessings to you and yours!



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