How to Work Through Your Money Issues as a Couple
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Can't agree on how to tackle your finances? Learn how you work together on some of your biggest money issues!
Working Through Money Issues Together
Last month, in the newsletter I mentioned that for October I was going to be focused on the theme of r resetting and rebooting your finances so you can hit your goals before 2019 ends.
I’m doing a special mini-series this month on the podcast, but that’s not the only project I’m doing.
I’m also a part of a big event happening next week that follows this idea of pushing through on your financial goals – The Mama Talk Money Summit.
The event is happening next week – October 21st through 25th.
All week during the summit, there will be sessions from over 40 incredibly financially savvy mamas and speakers. We’re talking all about:
- Family Finance
- Investing, Retirement & Estate Planning
- Career & Business
- Teaching Kids About Money
And much, MUCH more!
So whether you’re trying to knock that credit debt, get some savings stashed away, or are looking to invest for long term goals, this summit will have at least a few sessions that can help you make it happen.
And 2019 Mamas Talk Money Summit is a FREE conference that’s 100% online!
This was an important point for me because I know we’re all at different points in our financial journey, so having it be free to register was one of the reasons I wanted to join in.
The reason I’m bringing this summit up is 1) I think it’s an incredible event and resource and 2) my session is going to be about a specific hurdle that we as couples can sometimes have when we’re trying to improve our finances, such as paying off debt.
In fact, my session is called Dump Debt Together (When You Can’t Agree How).
So you’re all ready to knock debt out, but your spouse….not so much.
I’ll be sharing some ways you can dig into the real reason they’re hesitating and some ways you can use that to come up with a debt-free plan they’d want to join in on.
So if you’d like to grab your free pass, catch that session and more, please just head over here.
So the session will be a deep dive on the topic, but I want to touch on today this idea of trying to get on the same page.
Adam Kol is joining me today.
He’s a former Tax Attorney and a Certified Mediator who is now focusing on helping couples working through some of their issues.
Today we’re going to take a situation and question from someone in the community.
In this episode we’ll look at:
- Questions to ask to get your spouse to open up
- How to use what-if scenarios to work through issues
- Working to keep things open and honest so that you’re making the progress you want together
Hope you enjoy!
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Resources to Hit Your Money Goals
If you two are looking to improve how you talk and work together with your finances (and lives), please check out these resources.
- Best Budget and Money Apps: Personal Capital, Tiller, Mint, Zeta
- Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money
- Grow Your Stash Faster: High Yield Savings with CiT Bank
- Automatic Saving: Qapital
- Free 401(k) Analysis: blooom
- Why Most People Fail with Their Goals (And How You Can Win!)
If you want to discuss talking with your spouse about money, ask questions, or share your own tips please join us over at Thriving Families on Facebook.
Adam Kol: Couples Financial Counselor
He’s a former Tax Attorney and a Certified Mediator who is now focusing on helping couples working through some of their issues as a couples financial counselor.
Adam is providing individually-crafted, fundamentally-sound Couples Financial Counseling and training.
Finding a Fair Way to Split Fun Money
Elle Martinez: Adam, let's jump right in. This is from Mike. Mike was kind enough to give his take about what's going on. And it's about I don't know.
Every couple calls it something different. We call it our fun money. And he was saying that their biggest challenge right now is coming to an agreement to use this discretionary income.
They've paid the bills and they have some leftover, but they're trying to find a way where it's both of them feel like this represents their values and it's equitable in from what I got on his e-mail.
The question was one of them makes a significant more amount of money than the other. Yeah. And so, like, should this be split down the middle? This fund money account? Or is this something that maybe should be based on income? How do they find a path forward?
Adam Kol: First of all, thank you, Mike, for the question and for being vulnerable and also to share where you're struggling. And also, I want to acknowledge the care that you have for your significant other that you want to make it feel equitable, that you wanted to honor your personal values and great job, of course, organizing your finances so you have discretionary income. And I wanted to do the most thoughtful way. That's really what I love to see. And that's my hope for all couples.
But yeah, to get kind of directly into that question. And as you said a couple of times, it's often not about the dollars. So when I work with clients, it's not. Here's what you need to do it. Here are the different things that may come up for you. Hear the different ideas to explore.
Let's ask you some really pointed questions to get to the bottom of kind of what's going on underneath the surface for you. Right. And even in Mike's e-mail, he hit on it right away. It's like we want it to be equitable. We want it to be aligned with our values.
The key thing, if that's your situation, is to be able to create a safe space to talk about what that means to you right there, because I can't sit here and tell you what's equitable for you.
Running What-If Scenarios
Adam Kol: Couples do it all sorts of different ways. And what matters is that they're on the same page. So maybe one way to approach this is just like, what does equity mean to you? Right. Or what are your values? Another way would be to propose scenarios and say what comes up. Right.
Let's say we did do it based on I'm just gonna imagine one partner makes twice as much as the other. Let's say we said, OK, well, what if we had equal discretionary income? How would that make each person feel? The person who makes more money in the person makes less. What if we did it?
The person who makes more has twice as much. And the person who makes less as half as much. Basically proportional to their income. How would that make you feel? Right. And then maybe even look kind of concretely like what stuff would that make available to you or not?
Elle Martinez: I'd love this suggestion because this is a way for you to kind of remove yourselves out of the situation and yet discuss it. So if you guys have something that you're thinking about a decision or you're talking about your fund manager, discretionary income and how to spend it, make it a what if scenario. What if we did it this way? What if we did it that way? And you got to be honest with how you would feel in that scenario. I know for some couples emerging their finances, it's pretty straightforward and easy. And for others, maybe because of past relationships and experiences, you feel a little more hesitant. But by talking this out before you jump into whatever financial scenario you're considering, you're giving each other an opportunity to try to work out a situation where you both feel comfortable and to give you a better idea. Use a spreadsheet or use an app and figure out what would be the numbers. Just don't talk about our extra income. How much would that be after you've paid the bills? Do you have an extra three hundred five hundred? A thousand more? How much would each of you get? What would you do with that? By making that real enough, you're going to be talking about the issues that could come up. And at the same time, you're far enough away so that you're not emotionally involved and could possibly start a fight over this. This is just a what-if scenario.
Having Freedom with Fun Money
Adam Kol: Ultimately, what I encourage people to keep in mind is like, well, what's going to give us individually a good life, whatever we consider that to be and what's going to give us the strongest partnership. And so that is really the goal. And however you structure that to get there is up to you. So, I mean, in short and this is honestly the way that I operate. We want to dig beneath the surface and say, what is that discretionary income represent to you? What does it represent to you to have different ways of. Again. And then investigating whether that meaning is a real deep meaning for you or if it's like something that was constructed out of a past event where you felt slighted around money or something else. Right. So that you can see about weight. Maybe that's just something I made up and it's kind of my money baggage. We can shake that loose and create a new partnership because I know you're not my ex. And you know I'm not your ex. So let's create our own unique relationship here rather than a response to what didn't work in the past, something that's organic, unique to us and evolving Moment to moment.
Elle Martinez: For most couples, that means that our fun many or discretionary income is going to be spent differently for us.
My husband is more the tech guy, so it's fewer purchases, but larger amounts.
And for me, it's books and eating out with friends.
Giving each other in this space allows us to individually have ways to relax and enjoy ourselves. And at the same time, we're making sure that we stick with our budget overall.
Adam Kol: And so for me, like my girlfriend, it's going to a gym. That's something like maybe 150 bucks a month and she does classes.
My gym is like one hundred a month. But I'm not, like a self-motivated exerciser. And so a few months ago, I hired a personal trainer and that's just under 750 bucks a month to work with them twice a week.
My health and wellness budget is bigger than my rent. And I live in Oakland. That's pretty expensive!
And so that's what matters to me. So if we looked at that just collectively, we might have different perspectives on it.
Let's come together and talk about that. And maybe you don't want to discuss that together. It's also healthy to reflect separately, come together and then talk about what you've discovered and also look at what you need for the relationship to thrive, because that might be very different. Right?
Maybe the relationship needs a budget for dates, even though you as an individual don't need a budget for going out to dinner or to the movies. But for your partnership to thrive, you need to set aside some time and money to make sure you are just no agenda connected with each other. Right.
Because that's a lot of stuff. And so that's work that can be done, like I said, both individually and then together in partnership.
Elle Martinez: While the amount spent and what you spend your money on is probably going to be different than what Adam is spending.
I think the key point here is understanding that having these conversations about what matters to you, whether it's your hobbies or things that you guys are doing together, is absolutely key. Not just with staying on budget, but keeping things open in your relationship.
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Like the music in this episode? Our theme song is by Gentle Regime. Additional music by Lee Rosevere