Money and Marriage: Here’s How Couples Make It Work

When it comes to relationships, Keisha Blair knows that opposites can attract. And these opposing views and behaviors can sometimes be about money.

Blair, founder of the Institute on Holistic Wealth and author of “Holistic Wealth,” says she and her wife, Lindsay Blair, have their own financial personality types that can sometimes complement each other, and at other times clash. oppose.

Using the personal financial identity framework from her book, Blair describes herself as a “risk taker”. She’s someone who “prefers to take on more risk with the goal of accumulating more assets and investments, and with a view to achieving certain financial and lifestyle goals,” she says.

Lindsay, on the other hand, is the “minimalist” type. He is someone who prefers to live simply, who is frugal and more risk averse when it comes to investing and taking on debt. He’s the type to change his car’s brakes himself to save $500, Blair says.

Blair and her spouse value open communication to ensure their differences don’t cause relationship problems, but a point of tension may be that Blair has felt limited by her spouse’s hesitations about risk.

“I have to temper my excitement because we have to agree on some things,” she says. “He probably sometimes feels like he’s saying ‘Here she is again’ launching the next exciting investment, and it’s not exciting at all for him. It’s actually more nerve-wracking…this conversation is ringing the bells. For him, living a headache-free minimalist lifestyle is his end goal.

Blair has learned to plan these conversations ahead of time with all the math worked out to show her husband how a particular investment can fit into their goals and spending plans.

“For the minimalist, it helps a lot to reduce their anxiety,” she says.

While Blair and her partner have the language to communicate and understand each other’s differences, not all couples can reconcile their different mindsets and behaviors when it comes to money so easily. And couples who don’t deal with these differences may experience more friction.

“You have to address the money differences head on and try to be on the same page. If you don’t, resentment can build on both sides,” says Shannon Lee Simmons, certified financial planner and founder of the New School of Finance.

“The higher the financial stakes, the higher the emotional stakes when it comes to being on different pages with your money.”

Right now, when many Canadians are grappling with a higher cost of living and a coming recession, any existing financial correspondence may seem heightened, she says.

Some couples may find that one person wants to “batten down the hatches” by putting all of their financial energy into paying off mortgage debt or adding to their emergency fund, while the other partner has the mindset. of “this too shall pass”, she says. “A difference in risk tolerance can really show in these times.”

Natasha Knox, Certified Financial Planner and Founder of Alaphia Financial Wellness, says the first step couples need to take in resolving different financial perspectives is to expect them to each examine how their own behavior contributes to any issues at hand. hand, such as arguments, communication breakdowns or secrecy.

“Each part will work on itself. It is not reasonable to go into any type of process hoping to change your partner. It usually doesn’t end well,” Knox says.

If each partner makes this commitment, then they must each explore aspects of money that they have always assumed to be universal truths. It can be opposing opinions such as “some debts are normal” or, alternatively, “all debts are bad”, for example.

Ryan Becker, director of advisor engagement at CI Global Asset Management, says it’s important for couples to think about and discuss the origins of these money mindsets, which he attributes to inherited attitudes, personality traits and life experiences.

“The money patterns we observe in childhood are the primary source that drives our financial decision-making later in life. These become inherited attitudes,” he says. For example, Becker has memories of his parents working overtime delivering flyers and Sears catalogs for extra cash. This memory of the scarcity and need for overtime influenced Becker’s own behavior, even if not not really a financial necessity.

With personality traits, those who are more inclined to engage in risky activities, such as skydiving, are generally willing to take more risks with their money. When it comes to life experiences, pivotal changes can influence future behavior, says Becker. For example, Becker’s parents bought their first home in the 1980s when interest rates were north of 15%, so their goal was to pay off that debt as soon as possible. This influences their approach to debt today.

Knox recommends couples clarify their shared desires and shared values ​​that brought them together in the first place. These shared values ​​can then lead to collaborative ways of personal finance.

“When partners try to really see things from each other’s perspective and put themselves in each other’s shoes, that’s when we can start to see progress in that couples can come together on these issues,” Knox says. The key is to be open and curious to develop a sense of empathy, she says.

Blair recommends couples create a monetary mission statement that outlines their goals for the next five years and how the money can be used to achieve them. In this mission statement, couples can write down key values ​​around money that they agree on, such as giving back. It is also an opportunity to highlight how the different strengths of each partner can contribute to achieving financial goals.

In Blair’s relationship, as a risk taker, she is the one looking at investments and seeing how the couple can maximize their retirement income. Lindsay, as a minimalist type, likes to manage the budget in a spreadsheet and keep up to date with taxes.

Blair also recommends couples have date nights with money to work on or reflect on their mission statement, talk about what influences their financial behaviors, and track progress toward their goals.

“If you have big, short-term plans, like buying a new house, moving to a new city or country, a wedding or a baby on the way, then I’d say bi-weekly parties are a good thing.” Otherwise, for maintenance, she recommends once a month.

Blair says to create a date atmosphere by buying your favorite snacks and drinks to make these dates as fun and relaxing as possible.

In Blair’s relationship, Lindsay has managed to bring her “down to earth” if she wants to take a major risk, while showing her the value of undertaking a new type of investment.

“It’s not a bad thing if you have a different personal financial identity than your spouse,” she says. Couples can make it work by being accountable to each other.

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