Interestingly, there are endless possibilities when it comes to relationships and money management. Many jokes and stories affirm that the issue is not a rare one at all. According to Psychology Today, disagreements over money increase the chances of divorce by over 30%!
Of course, forty-seven years of marriage has not passed without a “discussion” or two about money in our lives. It is unrealistic to suggest that the goal is to never have a disagreement about the family finances. Save perfection for the movies! Yet, tools exist to minimize the impact of the inevitable friction that occurs when two loving people see things differently.
Money is a powerful force in our lives. This is true both personally and around us in the world. Too often in some relationships, money and money management transforms into a weapon. Clearly, people can use money as a weapon to punish a partner by allocating resources to something the other disagrees with. Punishment can take many forms, such as reminders of when one makes a bad purchase or denies some reasonable purchase with ulterior motives.
In contrast, money, when used as a tool, takes a much different form. This results in building a better life for both in the relationship. The economic benefit gained of joining two in marriage and other relationships are centuries old. Of course, the term economic benefit may mean different things to people. Often this is at the core of frictions about money. Belief systems are often different based on how each person has learned and incorporated money values in their lives.
Money stories are important to share and to understand. Ideas of thrift and savings may have been dominant in one person’s upbringing. For another, a driving force was the fact the family had very little money growing up. Each of our money stories is different. Yet, while different, when understood, the path to partnering in relationships with money becomes much clearer.
As usual, a few questions are helpful for discussion. Personal experiences and the money lessons we observe while growing up shape our values. What experiences had an impact on you growing up? How are your money decisions shaped by those experiences? What about your money values would you like to change? It is VITAL that any discussion of this type honors and respects each person. Without honor and respect it is very easy to get sidetracked making little or no progress, possibly even backsliding a bit.
Frequently, discussions about finances are set aside and take second place behind vacation plans or a home improvement project. If this happens often, third-party help can help break through and focus on the bigger money issues that lie beneath the surface. A qualified Certified Financial Planner® licensee has formal training to conduct a process that will lead to improved relationships and money management.
Of course, asking about the planner’s experience with bridging money values and issues with clients similar to you is a necessary function. There may be some deep-seated issues that require different expertise than an experienced financial advisor can deliver. If that is the case, there are licensed therapists that specialize in money issues and concerns.
Goals: The Critical Element
Money stories, once known, respected and appreciated, are critical in establishing communication. The next step is focusing on common long-term goals. Amazingly, in my forty years of experience, I have never seen anything more powerful and unifying than having future-oriented goals. Often, these goals focus on financial independence, funding of education, a new home or second home. Of course, goals should not be limited to these items. In my experience, the magic comes from the unified effort to create a joint vision.
This new vision empowers a different way of thinking about money. The focus changes to how to accomplish the goals and make other impulsive purchases less important. Of course, we are still human and we will still succumb to an occasional purchase driven by some impulse driven from our money story. That said, a solid framework for your relationships and money management will be there as a beacon to a better life.
Robert Klosterman, CFP® is Founder of White Oaks Wealth Advisors, Inc., a fee-only wealth management firm, and its predecessor R.J. Klosterman & Co, Inc. Bob has been a Certified Financial Planner licensee since 1989. He has a clear vision for the future having worked in financial planning since 1975, and feels a strong need to provide people with expert and independent wealth advisory services. As a Certified Financial Planner and certificate holder for Family Wealth Advising, Bob’s expertise and guidance have helped to fuel the steady growth of the firm. Today, White Oaks Wealth Advisors boasts a talented staff of advisory professionals, hand-picked for their financial planning and wealth management knowledge as well as their dedication to client service.