My View, Your View

When meeting with couples, it is unusual to learn that they share the same relationship with money.  I’m not saying that it’s a gender issue. Maybe sometimes it is.  But it often goes far deeper than that.  Money conversations are complicated because we’re dealing with both a lifetime money experience and a family financial history.  Times two.

Confusion or a misunderstanding about money differences can cause anxiety and potentially lead an otherwise very loving relationship to ruin.

We recently had a meeting with a husband and wife.  He’s a successful business owner who comes from a modest family that didn’t alway make ends meet.  She’s a mother of 4 very busy kids and is in charge of home operations.  She comes from a wealthy business-owner family that spent summers and spring breaks at their seaside family compound down south.

Part of our meeting agenda was to discuss and update their retirement plan.  That’s when the conversation turned.  He believed that he needed to save more to reach their goals.  She felt already constrained, living on a very tight budget and needed more cash flow for the home.  She also believed that they could still retire on track even with a spending increase.  There was no right or wrong.  Just a misunderstanding and lack of communication combined with an unclear plan.

Fortunately in this case, we were able to offer a sense of comfort for the family.  In fact, the husband could take a 10 year sabbatical and still retire on track.

So who’s right?  When it comes to money discussions, there is no win/lose.  That’s what leads to ruin.  Instead, we need to remind ourselves that each of us brings our own personal biases to the table when discussing money.

In the case of our clients, they were able to adjust their spending to create a more comfortable living situation at home.  Additionally, they both benefitted from learning more about each other and made some easy to live with compromises. 

Be aware of and be honest about your own personal money biases.  Be aware and compassionate about your spouse’s personal money biases.  Only when you have this understanding, will you be able to articulate what you need and feel about money so you can move forward harmoniously. 

Money conversations are never easy, but they can become less stressful when we become curious and compassionate with each other.