If you had to choose between either love or money, what would you choose?
The answer isn’t always as easy as you might think. But on the same token, the answer can be straight forward.
Being in a relationship is a journey. So no matter where you are in your relationship, financial compatibility will play a huge role in the success of your relationship. You have to have the resources and the resiliency to provide for yourself and your loved ones, and also be able to weather all that life throws at us. So if you had to choose between either love or money, what would you choose? In reality, the two almost always go hand-in-hand.
Money is almost always going to impact many of the choices you and your partner decide to make. Will you buy a house together? How many kids will you have? Can you retire early? Any of these decisions take a considerable amount of trust and financial planning, and if you are not on the same page or don’t share the same values when it comes to money, you may experience a bumpy ride down the road.
The keys to managing your money is knowing and understanding your financial health. And being financially healthy is one of the key ignitions to driving your relationship into the fast lane.
And full disclosure – while I am not a relationship expert – what we’re saying here about being financially healthy and compatible with your partner does not mean that you must find a partner who makes more money than you or someone who happens to come from a well-off family. Rather, the kind of compatibility we’re talking about here has much more to do with your respective attitudes towards and habits surrounding money.
In that sense, when you think about your money, how you manage your money is vital to your own personal journey but its even more important when you are in a relationship and have loved ones in your life. So have a plan. But also have a back-up plan.
Staring down the open road
In order to get on the road and make your plan, first you should both disclose where you stand financially. You and your partner will have nearly an impossible time mapping out a plan for your financial future, if you both don’t discuss and understand your personal money situations.
Understandably for so many couples, especially when they begin their relationships, money tends to be an off-limits topic. Of course, money has long been known to be a leading cause of stress in relationships. Maybe you’re insecure about your own financial situation, and talking it over with your partner would force you to deal with the reality of a serious situation. Or maybe you’ve just never even considered discussing finances with a partner and figured that everything would simply work itself out.
Regardless of your own circumstances, we know that having this discussion can be tough. A third of Americans do not share their incomes with their spouses and/or partners. Just getting those details on the table and being clear and being able to discuss it with your partner is an important step to take together on your journey. But no matter what stage you are in your relationship, it’s never too late to start discussing money.
Being honest about where you stand with your money is important and healthy. Being honest about where you stand, particularly around debt – do you pay off your credit cards off every month? Do you revolve debt? What is your debt situation? What is your credit score? These are some of the questions that people in relationships should routinely ask their partners.
It is of course much easier to discuss this with your partner earlier in your relationship and figure out a plan of attack than wait until a money situation, like a student loan debt or car loan, eventually becomes an unmanageable amount. Neither of you needs to be perfect, but you do need to be on the same page — and be open to working through current or future money problems together. Having these conversations early and often will bring you back to the table for better understanding and planning.
And so working with a financial professional who keeps you at the table helping you to keep your goals in mind is really beneficial to enjoying a smooth journey.
The journey begins but it never ends
Once you and your partner are on a financial journey together, eventually you may start driving towards other goals, like saving for a house, planning for your children’s college education or even planning for your retirement. So it is also important to set goals for every step of the way and understand where you are both headed.
But do you know, we spend more time planning vacations in our lives than we do planning any other financial commitment?
Make no mistake – its okay to want to go on and plan a vacation. But it’s also important to have some balance and set some goals for all of your life events.
When you start having these conversations, of course, depends on you and your specific relationship. When you build a relationship with someone and eventually maybe also build a family with that person, you better believe the people closest to you will influence your finances. The more proactive you are about starting open conversations about these topics, the sooner you and your partner will be driving in the fast lane.
As you begin your own personal journey, we’re here to help. Chase branches across Los Angeles and California are hosting Chase Chats – a series of weekly informational events — with tips and information on how to get started on your journey. Chase Chats are ways for us to have open and friendly dialogue about financial health issues that are important to the community and your family. We’re here to help you map out your next journey.