Every relationship usually has that one issue — a topic — that if it gets brought up, will probably cause an argument. For some it’s trust, for others it’s where they’re going to live, but for that lucky few, it’s money. Even if money isn’t something that gets brought up all the time in your relationship, when you’re talking about spending your life with someone and every financial move they make is now connected to you, suddenly it seems pretty important to see eye to eye.
There are two things you should know: One, you’re absolutely, one hundred percent, not alone. Two, there is a light at the end of this very dark, frustrating tunnel. And although there are several ways to educate yourself — online, friends and family, etc. — if those options aren’t the right fit, there’s always working with a financial planner. Here are five ways seeing a financial planner can absolutely change your relationship for the better.
1. It gives you an opportunity to be honest with each other
The first step in your journey will be laying out all your finances. Black and white. The good and the bad… things are going to get real, fast. Before our appointment, my boyfriend and I were emailed paperwork to fill out together. It was at this time that the little credit card balance I’d been secretly chipping away at came out of hiding.
It can feel shameful to admit you have debt, and having an open and honest conversation about it isn’t easy — but it is necessary. Taking advantage of this opportunity to put everything on the table will only lead to a stronger relationship. You’ll feel better for being completely transparent and knowing that your partner did the same for you.
2. It puts things in perspective
Even if you haven’t kept any secrets or have no debt, it can become very clear at your meeting with your financial planner who is the saver and who is the spender (or that you’re both savers or spenders). I hated to admit it, but it was immediately obvious that I was the spender, and he was the saver. It was extremely sobering to hear our planner lay all these numbers out in front of us and see the irresponsible habits on both sides of the table.
In fact, there’s a whole science behind spending habits, and once our planner explained all of this, it made so much sense. For example, my use of credit cards, my parents’ spending habits, my need for instant gratification, etc.
Once you understand what triggers your spending and why, you can start to form new money habits! Like anything else though, it takes a lot of effort and patience, so don’t get discouraged.
Just remember: no matter how difficult or frustrating the conversations may feel, the fact that you and your partner are willing to address your finances head on puts you way ahead.
3. Having a mediator creates a constructive conversation
If money is a constant argument in your relationship, meeting with an objective third party who’s an expert on the topic will really be life changing for you and your SO. Instead of each of you trying to justify your spending or saving, your financial planner is there to help you find a strategy unique to your relationship and a common ground. Like most issues in relationships, compromise is key, and a financial planner can help you find it.
4. Finally feeling like you’re on the same page financially
Finally, my boyfriend and I were feeling like we were on the same page in regards to money. It ended up being the best thing we could have done for our relationship. In a way, it was really like a therapy session and we both felt lighter afterwards.
5. You’ll leave with a plan
One of the best parts of going to the planner was leaving feeling like we had a plan. He gave us instructions on what our next steps should be as individuals, and then once we accomplish those goals, we’ll come back to learn what our next steps are as a couple. In the short term, that means I have to pay off my credit card, build my savings, and then shift my focus to student loans. In the long term, we’re going to learn how to combine our finances and our financial goals so not every purchase needs a referee. The biggest thing, though, is for both us to learn to listen to each other more and try to understand why something that’s important to me isn’t important to him (when it comes to spending vs. saving) and vice versa.
We now feel like we’re playing on the same team instead of against each other, which has made it all worth it.