Love and Money: How to Increase Financial Intimacy with Your Partner

Do you keep “spending secrets” from your spouse or significant other?

Has a difference in how much risk you’re comfortable taking with your investments and retirement savings caused friction in your relationship?

Do you feel envious at times of friends, neighbors or family members who have more wealth than you do?

If you were a lot wealthier, would your sex life change in any significant way?Love & Money

These questions – and more – sparked some interesting conversations and soul searching for subscribers who took our Love and Money Self-Assessment. (It’s not too late to take it, and it will only take you about 3-minutes to do it!)

Of those who have already taken the Self-Assessment, 31% admit to keeping spending secrets from their partner, including lying about what they paid for something, hiding purchases altogether, and taking money from their partner’s purse or wallet without asking.

14% of respondents said both partners are okay taking risks with their investments, but more than twice as many said they both have little tolerance for risk.  Of the 31% who said they differ in their tolerance to risk, most said it hasn’t caused problems for them.

Three out of four respondents said they have friends, neighbors or family members who have more means than they do, but “it doesn’t bother me.”  22% admitted to being envious at times.

As far as the effect that greater wealth would have on a couple’s sex life, 20% said it would be more frequent.  About 2% said a lot more wealth would potentially harm their intimacy.

Responses to some of the Love and Money questions were revealing…

  • Nearly 40% haven’t discussed their retirement plans in depth and more than 37% haven’t decided or don’t agree on where they’ll retire or at what age (only 16% have done that)
  • Financial stress causes problems in almost 70% of relationships, and has led to some of the worst fights ever for 6% of respondents. And for 8%, it’s caused one or both partners to consider ending their relationship!
  • Would it surprise you to know that nearly half of respondents said they never discussed money or financial planning before committing to each other as a couple?

As I noted in an earlier blog post, 91% of couples avoid talking about finances, household expenses and debt with their partner, according to a survey by American Express.  Money is the leading cause of martial and relationship troubles.

How to reduce financial stress in your relationship

I’ve put together five tips for improving the fiscal harmony in your relationship…

Tip #1:  Hold a monthly financial discussion night

Since so many couples don’t talk openly about money, when money issues do come up, it becomes a sensitive subject and leads to conflict.

Financial Discussion Night

Financial Discussion Night

The solution is to sit down with your partner every month and go over your spending and savings plan.  Look at everything you bought during the past month and everything you’re thinking of buying soon, and ask yourselves, “Is this really a need or a want”?  Awareness is the key to taking control of your spending habits, and asking questions like this one is very powerful.

Even if you don’t always agree with your partner’s spending habits, you can agree that any purchase over a certain amount, such as $200, will be discussed in advance.

Also discuss and update your long-term and short-term financial and savings goals, and then ask yourselves if the purchases you’re considering will truly move you closer to those goals.

If you have children over age 6 or 7, include them in your monthly family finance night – it’s a great way to prepare your kids to be financially successful and responsible adults.

Teenager thinking about money

Learn more about how to teach teens financial responsibility…

Practical steps you can take to make the entire subject matter more interesting to teens.

Tip #2:  Share responsibility

It’s common today for one partner to play the primary role in managing finances.  But both partners should be aware and involved.  Make all decisions about major purchases together.

Trap:  Allowing the partner with the biggest income to make major financial decisions alone.

Tip #3:  Eliminate debt to outside financial institutions

Debt Free Just Ahead

Debt is deadly to many relationships, and a top priority should be to reduce and eliminate debt to banks and credit card companies.

One way to speed up that process is to make your spending decisions more consciously.  (See Tip #1 above.)

Another key is building an emergency fund that can help you weather life’s emergencies.

For tips on creating a rainy-day fund, including how much you should be setting aside, check out the video, The Secret to a Financially Stress-Free Life.

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Tip #4:  Have a “Plan B”

One topic to be sure to cover during your family finance discussion night is what’s your back-up plan if things change.  What if one partner loses their job?  Or what if one partner wants to go back to school?  What if one of you gets a job in another part of the country?

Tip #5:  How to take the first stepTake the Love and Money Self-Assessment...

There’s no time like the present to start or deepen the money conversation with your partner.  If you haven’t yet taken our Love and Money Financial Self-Assessment, it’s a fun, non-threatening way to open the conversation.

So, I encourage you and your partner to take the 3-minute Assessment, either separately or together, and see how your money values differ from one another.  If the comments we’ve received from other subscribers are any indication, I know you’ll find this to be eye-opening!

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