Guiding your life’s biggest financial moments

Personal Finance

Financial conversation starters for couples

The words "Who," "How" and "Ownership."

Ready to do something special with your love? How about taking some time together and talking about something that really matters, like each other and your finances?

Here are three conversation starters for the both of you, while you mull over some rosé.

Fidelity Investment’s 2021 Couples & Money survey highlights that couples who make decisions about their finances together enjoy positive benefits. These are encouraging statistics in contrast to the 2014 American Psychological Association survey revealing that 31% of adults with partners cite money as a major source of conflict in a relationship.

In light of these results, consider these talking points:

  • What do you like about your (and your partner’s) approach to money today?
  • What don’t you like about each of your approaches?
  • How would you like to improve your conversations about money?

Your finances go beyond your monthly cash flow, annual budget, and retirement savings. Depending on the nature of your relationship with your partner, seemingly trivial day-to-day decisions – like ordering dinner or subscribing to this new streaming service – have the power to influence your quality of life now and your opportunities in the future.

Rather than being overwhelmed by all your choices, focus on the big picture – the six interrelated pieces that make up your unique financial puzzle:

  1. Returned
  2. Expenses
  3. Assurance
  4. Investments
  5. Debt
  6. Financial obligations to other people

Caroline Wetzel, Procyon Partners White Paper

Source: Financial Planning: Building Your Personal Roadmap

In order to focus on the big picture, for your next talking points, consider:

  • Do you understand the details of each of the six pieces of your own financial puzzle? For example, how much of your current income do you save and invest? What types of investment risks do you take in your retirement and brokerage accounts? Regarding your debt, what is your current repayment plan?
  • Does your partner understand the details of the six pieces of their financial puzzle?
  • What pieces of your respective financial puzzles do you share as a couple? Keep separate? Why?
The words "who"  "How? 'Or' What"  and "Property."

Courtesy of Carolyn Wetzel

If you share responsibility for any of the six pieces of your unique financial puzzle with your partner, it is essential to continually clarify the “WHO”:

  • WWho is monitoring what part of the big picture and where are the access details stored? Delegating responsibility for a piece of the financial puzzle does not mean denying it. It doesn’t matter if your partner takes responsibility for one piece of the puzzle; however, you have to understand how he / she does it. For example, if you trust your partner to oversee your investments and they hire a fiduciary finance team to manage them, it is essential that you have a relationship with that team, know how to contact them, and know how. access your account information.
  • HHow is each element of the big picture going (now)? Hold each other accountable for monitoring your respective parts of your joint financial situation. In the same way that having a gym membership doesn’t make you physically fit, being responsible for a piece of your shared financial puzzle doesn’t mean that the piece of the puzzle is groomed the way it should. For example, if you agree as a team that you will save 15% of your income in retirement and investment accounts, who will verify that you are doing it right? How does this person keep you both updated on your progress and how does your team adjust your approach in light of your progress?
  • ohOwnership: When it comes to your investments, insurance, and other parts of your big picture, do the title and terms of each part (still) make sense? Life is constantly changing. Just because you and your partner have agreed to structure a common piece of your financial puzzle in a certain way in the past doesn’t mean that it continues to make sense to you. Maybe you took out a life insurance policy to cover your children’s education costs and a large mortgage and now your children have grown up and you have downsized? Maybe you’ve named someone as a beneficiary on one of your accounts and you’ve changed your mind?

There are so many ways to express your love for your partner. Own your wealth and the power it offers you and your loved one every day. Have the courage to be vulnerable with each other, create a safe space to talk about your finances, and strategically use your individual and shared resources to make your dreams come true.

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