HeadlinersMoney Matters

Three Keys to Money and Relationships!

Imagine sitting side-by-side in an escrow office in Chicago feverishly signing and initialing a stack of about 120 pieces of paper. You are buying your first home!

You’d pause every 10 pages or so to exchange a glance and wipe the sweat from your foreheads. Wow, this is really it. We are forever “in debt” together – or at least for the next 30 years.

Buying a home – especially at Chicago prices – was the most financially intimate and stress-inducing thing we’d ever done in our 12 years together. There it was, all laid out before us: our debts, our savings, our mistakes, our successes. Thankfully, we had not kept any secrets in this department.

Get naked

Money is a funky topic when it comes to relationships. Some couples seem to never have issues with money, while others can’t even smell a dollar bill without erupting into a blowout. How do the cool cats do it? They get naked early in the relationship and show everything: salary, debt, goals, retirement plans, bonuses, guilty pleasures, expensive hobbies. You name it, they discuss it. Transparency is key.

Have a system

The couples that make it work also have a system. What’s the best system? Sounds stupid to say, but there really is no “best” system that works for everyone. The best is whatever works for you. For example, Husbands and Wives should split everything. Use a Google docs spreadsheet to track all expenses, who paid for what and who is owed money each month. You both agree to put a certain amount into savings each month and each add more when you can. You keep separate checking accounts with the same bank and have a third joint account that you use for moving money around and paying bills.

This system can work, but it is a bit labor intensive so it might not work for the couple that wants a less-intensive approach.

Have a vision

Have you ever worked for a company that lacked vision? Chances are you left and the company may have even closed doors. That’s because companies that lack vision and visionary leadership have a hard time competing. They have a hard time motivating employees and they definitely find it difficult to innovate in their industry.

The same holds true with money and your long-term relationships. You and your significant other need to have some sort of vision and you need to discuss it regularly. That vision may be to someday buy a house together, move to a foreign country, raise children, or start a business. This doesn’t have to be a detailed account of how the next 40 years of your lives will go. Rather, it’s a general direction with perhaps a specific goal that you both agree you’d like to achieve.

From my experience, these are the three keys to keeping money and relationships in tune: transparency, seamless process and shared goals. With these three things in place, you can be millionaires or you can be barely scraping by – either way, you’ll at least have peace of mind that money will not ruin your relationship.

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