If you’re spending Valentine’s Day with your sweetheart, money matters are probably the last thing you’ll be discussing over a nice glass of wine. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend it. But it’s no excuse to evade the subject completely in your relationship. If you dread the thought of crunching numbers with your better half or are unsure of where to start, I’m here to provide some tips on how to become a dynamic duo.
Your Household is a Business
Finances were certainly not the highlight of my marriage for a long time. Being the more money savvy one in our relationship, my husband often took care of our financial obligations. Despite several (desperate) attempts to work on them together, I just didn’t share the same enthusiasm.
Money was frankly never a big motivator for me. Sure we needed it to pay the bills, but my philosophy was simple - as long as we were earning stable incomes, spending within our means, and living comfortably, any leftover savings is what we would have to put towards larger expenses later.
Ten years into our careers though, things didn’t feel as bright and shiny as they did when we were fresh out of college. We wanted more time for ourselves. We wanted more space to grow into. And most of all, we didn’t want to depend on a minimum salary requirement to support our cost of living. I saw too many people stuck in highly paid, but stressful or unfulfilling jobs because they saw no other means of supporting their expenses.
That’s when we started to shift our mindset and think about our household as a business. If we wanted to continue living the lifestyle we had while still building long term wealth, we either had to increase our “gross profits”, reduce our “costs”, or a combination of both. Making money was a no-brainer, but learning to better manage what we had was the hard part.
Fast forward to today and we’re in a much better place. Dare I say we might even geek out about a new investment strategy on a Friday night. We’re truly business partners now managing a plan to comfortably support our life now and in the years to come. And that's true love my friends. Here’s how we did it:
1. Face the Figures
First and foremost, aggregate all of your financial accounts into one place and calculate your net worth. I use Personal Capital to track my net worth and I highly recommend you do too. Starting with your net worth figure will help you get on the same page about your current financial standing. Numbers don’t lie.
2. Understand Your Risk Tolerances
Opposites may attract, but that can take on a whole different meaning when it comes to money. If your significant other lives by a YOLO philosophy while you hide your hard-earned cash under the bed, you’re probably facing (or avoiding) some major disagreements when it comes to money management.
Not all risk is bad, but only you can decide what’s best for your well-being as a couple. Take some time to better understand each other’s point of view and discuss the pros and cons. Diverse perspectives are a good thing!
So turn your disagreements into a healthy debate! Who knows how you might change your mindset.
3. Be Honest About Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Maybe you are an Excel whiz while your partner can barely turn on a computer. Or perhaps your bae has been manning the taxes for years and knows a thing or two now. It’s time to get intimate about your strengths and weaknesses as a couple when it comes to finances. Managing money requires time, organization, research, knowledge, and problem-solving. Identify where you can put your skill sets to best use and where you might need a little extra help.
4. Treat Your Finances Like a Business Strategy
If there’s one thing I learned from my career, it’s that everyone likes to brainstorm a good strategy. We love solving problems and finding ways to make our lives better and more productive. When you shift your mindset from crunching numbers and paying bills to building a wealth-generating road map, finance suddenly becomes a little more fun.
So this Valentine’s Day, enjoy a little extra chocolate and love with your soulmate. Nothing makes a better partnership than a shared vision for success.