How to overcome financial incompatibility?
By: Diana Bello Aristizabal
In a new survey conducted by the fintech firm Bread Financial, 64 percent of couples admitted to being financially incompatible with their partners. In times of inflation, it poses an additional challenge for families in a society that has not taught us to talk about money in romantic relationships. How to overcome differences in this aspect?
To start, putting finances on the table in a relationship is recommended and a sign of a healthy bond. Doing so early on and in the right way can save both parties a lot of headaches and even a breakup.
“It’s important to have a casual conversation about money early on when we feel we’re in a relationship that is going somewhere because it’s often harder to do so once you’re in the dynamic of a relationship and sharing bills,” says Dustin Jacobs, Vice President of Marketing for BrightStar Credit Union.
For the above, the initial phase of a serious romantic bond is the ideal time to evaluate if the couple has the same philosophy regarding how to spend, save and invest money.
“We all have specific financial goals, for example, paying off debt, buying a car, or helping a relative. This must be communicated up front in a new relationship to avoid surprises and thus tensions in the future,” says the expert.
After this part of the other is established, it can then be defined whether or not the couple is financially compatible. There is incompatibility when each one assigns a different value to money frequently and in critical issues.
In this sense, it is not the same to have occasional disagreements around minor purchases than to differ in children’s education or retirement plan. If, for example, for one member of the couple, it’s not a priority to save for college or for a house while it is so for the other, this would qualify as a case of incompatibility.
“Not finding a common ground sometimes is normal and is part of being in a relationship. However, there is incompatibility when the same values around saving and spending, as well as the financial goals ??are not shared,” Jacobs says.
Clarity and planning
Although navigating these differences can represent a challenge for the couple, with a great dose of communication and planning, it’s possible to fix the situation. As for the first component, the number one step is to be willing to talk about money without adopting a combative attitude.
“It is better to approach the subject from a stand of how can we best serve each other with respect and full transparency, that is, without starting to hide expenses, which is known as financial infidelity,” warns Jacobs.
When engaging in a conversation of this nature, the path to follow is to separate wants from needs. For example, if for one person is important to buy brand-name shoes, the other may suggest depriving themselves from doing so for a few months while a debt is paid off and then fulfill that want.
“You have to respect what is valuable for the other part but always give priority to bills and make sure you have the income to fulfill the wants. I think most tensions arise because those wants are not previously discussed, and they are placed ahead of the needs,” the expert explains.
As for planning, you have to make a budget to verify where the money is going, in which categories you can save, and in which you are spending more in order to later set short and long-term common goals.
“Do this together and make sure that each decision you make is approved by the other, remembering that there is not a single formula that applies to all couples or one philosophy around money. The right thing to do is what works for both of you,” Jacobs advises.