About Money

by Bethany and Scott Palmer

Money must be one of the most delicate issues any couple will face. You can understand why. Any kind of communication within a relationship can be tricky, with two people bringing different personalities, needs, feelings and styles of relating. Add to that mix the hot-button issue of money—laden with messages about power, security and family history—and you’ve got a real challenge on your hands.

Every marriage counsellor will tell you that good communication dramatically enhances relationships. Every financial counsellor will tell you that communication also enhances a couple’s economic situation. Husbands and wives who talk through money issues are in a position to make great decisions, work together and utilize the strengths each has to offer. Financial writer Jeff Opdyke put it succinctly: “Talk is cheap. It’s the silence that’s expensive. . . . Communicating about your money will better your financial life and help you and your partner build not just a stronger bank balance, but a more robust relationship.”

We as a couple have our powwow around the 15th of every month. For 30 minutes, we talk about money. That’s it. No discussion about kids or vacations or leaky faucets. We review our budget, talk through decisions and identify anything new on our money radar screen.

You might choose to call your powwow something else—a money meeting, a budget-brainstorm session, or whatever—but the idea is to have a regularly scheduled get-together. And the goal is to have an undemanding and stress-free chat about money.

The powwow should feature at least four elements:

• A positive reflection on what went well for the month (or week).

• A basic check-in to stay current on financial matters and how each of you is feeling.

• Identification of any action items for the coming month.

• Delegation of assignments. (“I will call our insurance agent no later than Friday, and you drop those bills in the mail by Thursday.”)

Besides stimulating helpful conversations, another benefit is that you don’t have to talk about money all the time. We’ve noticed communication sometimes gets stifled when one partner brings up financial matters throughout the week; the other person starts to feel pestered. A powwow limits money talk to a specific time and gives partners the assurance they will have a chance to voice opinions and address issues.

Taken from ‘Cents & Sensibility‘.