Opposites attract. In magnets + in humans. If you are in a relationship + share finances, things can sometimes get frustrating. Or worst, cause conflict and sometimes resentment. We tend to take our finances very personally. How much we make, how much we spend, how much we save, how much debt we have - we take all those numbers and consider them important to our self-worth. Let me be the first to say...
Your value and self worth is NOT a sum of your financial numbers
Sometimes that is easier said that 'felt' but it is absolutely true. If you are proud of your financial position, that's awesome! I'm happy for you. But that doesn't make you better than anyone else. And the same goes if your numbers stress you out. If your numbers aren't where you'd like them to be, it doesn't mean that you are 'less than'.... and I'm here to tell you that numbers are fixable.
When you are in a partnership with someone in terms of your life choices, from what I've seen is that ONE of you is a financial keener and the other is a financial bobber. Let me explain, a financial keener knows their budget. They know their boundaries on what they can afford and what they can't . They save. They have manageable debt. Financial bobbers on the other hand... they are SO MUCH fun and always appear to be stress-free. They just 'bob' around in life and do what they want, when they want and are so happy to just 'bob'. Sometimes their decisions pull them underwater and they need help or panic. But until that moment, they barely even think about their finances, never mind worry about them.
They are also referred to as SAVERS + SPENDERS
And from what I've seen in relationships more often than not is that 1 partnership contains ONE of each of these types. Sometimes I'll see 2 keeners or 2 bobbers. But more commonly 1 relationship = 1 keener + 1 bobber. Which can be a challenge. When you're not on the same page in terms of goals, focus + money it can lead of you to feel very heavy and discouraged. Here's some tips for you:
#1. MUTUAL + INDIVIDUAL WANTS
Let's zoom out. What feels good for you right now. What do you want? What would you like to have/do/be in 5 years? There will be things that you want that your partner didn't have on their radar + there will be things you BOTH want. So laying it all out on the table will get things out in the open so that you both know why each other are making the choices you're making. But it also allows you to hold each other accountable. If you said you want to plan a family trip - but you are also thinking about buying a big purchase, your partner should be reminding you of your WANT and talking you through which is a priority + if you are wanting to pivot. Some WANTS that might be on your list: new car, travel, family trip, pay off credit card, renovate kitchen, new camper, another investment property, start your own business, semi-retirement.
#2. BE FAIR + UNBIAS
Your decisions are all based on 3 things: Your expected result + Luck + Hidden Information. So when your partner is making choices you'd rather they didn't... know that they are processing their decisions based on those 3 things, sometimes adding more weight to certain things than they should. Give them the benefit of the doubt AND always look at both sides. Which is SO difficult, especially when you're irritated or angry. But the more you do it, the more naturally it'll come. A quick tip is to ask yourself "wanna bet?". For example, let say your partner used the credit card to make a purchase when you thought that was something you weren't going to do anymore. Your thought is "THAT WAS A POOR CHOICE! You should have waited until we had the money in our bank account or used our savings!" OK. Now I'll say to you: "You say that was a bad decision... wanna bet?" by asking you to bet on what you think to be true, it forces you to look at both sides. Exposes factors you might be choosing to ignore and bubbles any uncertainty to the surface. Maybe if they haven't bought that item right then the price would change, the item would no longer be available, the points you got for the purchase let you go to the movies, blah blah blah... all the factors (luck + hidden information) start becoming a bigger part of the equation.
#3. CREATE A PANEL
It is human nature to take credit for good results and blame luck + hidden information for poor choices. By considering the skill + luck elements of each others choices your behaviour and decision making will change for the better. And supporting each other through that is important. Reminding each other of the goals you've set as well as remaining supportive, unbiased and kind. Another helpful tip is to create a panel of people you can connect with when you are trying to make some decisions. I got this idea from an interview I heard. Shaquille O'Neal explained that he created a panel of decision makers when he was young. They are a team of 5 men and women who he knows love him and they all have varying backgrounds. The way he describes it is like he is president but he has to run everything past congress first. They aren't meant to be a tie breaker or create animosity. They are designed to ask questions, walk you through the outcomes and provide you with outside perspective. Shaq's panel consists of his mom, 2 uncles, his business manager and a smart man who he respects. Your panel can consist of family members, friends, experts, professionals, etc.
If there's one thing I know FOR SURE it's that finance is 20% numbers and 80% behaviour. So when things are feeling frustrating or heavy with trying to share the financial responsibility, it's totally fixable. And it's not ALWAYS the numbers. More often than not it's a tweak in communication or a change of practices/systems that'll be the game changer :) Creating your family strategies based on the foundation that you are BOTH smart, well-wishing, successful humans is the key. The numbers you've walked into the relationship with are NOT the numerical values of your worth. They are just numbers!