Before my wife and I renovated our home, we were warned it could be the cause of some major marital tension. Quite honestly, it was a pretty smooth process, which I believe was a result of taking the time before we embarked on construction to first agree on everything from design to budget. Trust me, this came with a lot of discussion and compromise on both sides but it was well worth it because when we finally got started, we were completely on the same page.
As a financial advisor, I believe the same rules should apply to financial planning. I often meet with couples who have varying goals when it comes to saving, spending and planning for retirement yet have never discussed it. It’s interesting to me that while couples talk about everything from the kind of vacations they enjoy, the number of kids they want and where they hope to live, they often shy away from the topic of money before making a commitment to each other.
When it comes to money, emotions can run high so honest communication is key to financial harmony and success. Here are a few ways to start the conversation:
- Agree on an agenda for your discussion. Pick one topic on which to focus and don’t get sidetracked. It’s much easier to solve one issue at a time vs. trying to settle a whole range of topics at once.
- Focus the conversation on clarifying your values and then hone in on common goals to work toward.
- Commit to listening without interrupting. This will prevent you from reacting negatively and creating tension midway through the discussion.
- Try to understand your partner’s point of view. Everyone has their own set of values, dreams and fears, and it may take a little time to determine a plan that suits both of you.
- Work on a financial plan with the help of your investment advisor. He/she should have some great tools you can use to help clarify your goals and guide your discussions.
Money shouldn’t be a taboo topic or source of conflict. By taking the time to discuss your dreams, fears and goals, you can work through obstacles together. We’ve put together a Priorities Checklist that helps navigate discussions and clarify key goals and concerns. Download it today to help you get the conversation started.
Mark Shimkovitz is a financial advisor with Raymond James Ltd. The views of the author do not necessarily reflect those of Raymond James. This article is for information only. Raymond James Ltd. member of Canadian Investor Protection Fund.