Affairs of the Heart: Money Conversations to Have with Your Valentine

eHow Money Blog

Plenty of roses, heart-shaped boxed of chocolates and cards expressing how deep love really grows will be given on Valentine’s Day as tokens of love and admiration. And I’m just as romantic as the next person (although, I’m not a fan of chocolate) so I’ll get my hubby a card and bake him his favorite chocolate chip cookies.

But we’ll also have a conversation about a matter near and dear to our hearts while he dunks those cookies made with love in milk – money.

On the surface, it doesn’t sound terribly sexy to talk finances and budget on – or around – a day dedicated to love. But I think Valentine’s Day is one of the best days to discuss money matters and make sure you and your sweetie are two hearts working toward one common financial goal.

And research agrees. A Utah State University study says that couples who disagree about money once a week are roughly 30 percent more likely to get divorced than lovebirds who only disagree about money matter once or twice a month.

Communication is the key to any good relationship. And in order to have a solid financial relationship, you must discuss current financial goals, as well as future ones, once a week. “That way, you’ll make sure you stay on the same page and can easily spot a problem,” says Tina B. Tessina, PhD, psychotherapist in So. California and author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage.

Talking about these moulah matters can reduce the likelihood that you’ll fight frequently about money and help keep romantic embers burning brightly past Valentine’s Day.

So before you uncork the bubbly and dim the lights, why not take a few minutes to talk about some money matters that play a role in how you’ll be able to afford celebrating Valentine’s Day — and the other 364 days of the year — for years to come.

Discuss your parents. Tessina says young couples, those who are just starting out down the path toward being “Facebook official,” should discuss examples set by their parents.  Since many of us adopt our parents’ financial habits and assume their way is the right way, it’s good to get a ‘second opinion’ and see if the habits you’ve adopted are in line with those of your mate.

Just be prepared for your love to have his or her own lessons and ideas. “Talking through your money beliefs might not result in an agreement,” says Tessina. “But it will give both of you insights into why you disagree in order to strike a mutually agreed upon resolution.”

Come clean. I admit that from time to time, I’ve “forgotten” to mention a purchase or two to my husband. Not because he’s a tyrant or I’ve blown our budget, but because I’ve strayed outside of our mutually agreed upon spending limit and that means I have to admit I gave in to impulse.

Instead of keeping up the ruse and trying to hide the purchase, it’s easier to come clean. By fessing up, you and your partner can avoid things like bounced check fees that occur because one of you doesn’t know the other overspent and there’s less in the checking account or late fees when you don’t have enough money to pay monthly bills.

“Honesty will likely strengthen your relationship and help you tackle any money problems or set goals together,” says Tessina.

Review your goals. Even couples who previously agreed on spending and other major issues like how much to save for retirement or the importance of paying bills on time can drift off course when it comes to financial goals. Life throws curve balls in the form of emergency veterinary bills, orthodontics for kids and unexpected kids, to name a few, that can also derail financial goals or make it seem like they’re slipping out of reach.

Sit down with your main squeeze and list of each of your top three short-term money-related goals you want to accomplish by next Valentine’s Day, and the 1 or 2 long-term goals you each want to achieve down the line. If your goals are similar, you’re ahead of the game. If not, don’t worry; talk about those that you can combine and mesh. For instance, you want new carpet and your Valentine wants a new furnace. Maybe paying off a high interest credit card frees up enough money to accomplish both of those goals.

Whether you want to buy a four-bedroom home within five years or squirrel away enough cash to foot the bill for the kids’ entire college education, you both need to know what each other expects to accomplish in order to work together.  “Having goals that you’re both fully committed to increases the likelihood you’’’ both be more willing to work together to achieve those goals,” says Tessina.

Brag about your victories. Money talk doesn’t always have to be a downer. This Valentine’s Day pop some champagne and celebrate the credit card you paid off, the service charges you’ve avoided, or the impulse purchases you’ve looked away from.

Maybe your partner doesn’t know you said no to the set of golf clubs or “must have” boots that tempted you last week? Sharing some little money milestones helps reinforce you’re both committed not only in love, but in money, too.

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