First comes love, then comes … the money talk?!
We are thrilled to present Part 1 of our "Relationships and Money" series with Marielle Schurig, Vice President – Wealth Management at UBS Financial Services, Inc. Since joining UBS in 2010, Marielle has worked as a wealth advisor and financial planner, focused on providing personalized financial advice and solutions to high-net worth individuals. Marielle and her team work with a select group of affluent families, women in transition, entrepreneurs, corporate executives and the next generation of business leaders to help grow and protect their wealth. Marielle believes the key to a successful financial future can be found in knowing both the short and long-term impact of your decisions and requires a healthy relationship with money, thoughtful planning and a proactive approach.
Without further adieu, here are her thoughts on the often dreaded "Money talk."
While discussing money with your honey may not be the most romantic pillow talk conversation, setting the stage for a healthy financial relationship is critically important to any partnership.
In fact, money is a common cause of conflict in relationships and, sadly, the reason that many couples split up. So whether you are just starting to get serious with your partner or you’ve been together for years, there is no better time than the present to drop the m-word - Money - and to get serious about having an honest and open conversation about it together.
Join us in our "Relationships and Money" series to learn how to be money savvy when following your heart.
Talk about money
It’s no secret that cultivating a solid relationship with your partner takes work. No matter how much you love one another, trying to merge your lives - and your money - can be a journey filled with ups and downs.
Money is going to impact many choices you and your partner decide to make, or not make. Are you going to go on vacations, get married, buy a house, have kids? Each of those things takes a considerable amount of financial planning, and if you are not on the same page or don’t share the same values when it comes to money, it’s going to cause problems in your relationship later on down the road. Common topics that often cause future conflict between couples include differences in financial goals, spending habits, lifestyle choices, not being transparent about financial situations and debt.
It is important to talk about these things early and often. You don’t want to wait until you’re fully committed before finding out your now spouse has a heap of credit card debt and completely different financial goals than you. It’s better to know early on whether you’re financially compatible and to work through those potential issues together or decide if it is too much for you to stomach. To avoid major financial issues with your partner, and to foster a better more inclusive relationship, it’s important to be the same page when it comes to money and your financial goals.
Determining your financial compatibility can only start with one thing, a conversation. No matter what stage you are in your relationship, it’s never too late to start discussing money. Couples have less conflict about money when they share information and having a candid and transparent conversation around your finances with your partner is the first step towards building a solid foundation around money in your relationship. By having money conversations on the regular, you’ll have an opportunity to talk through financial challenges and figure out how to achieve your money goals together. AND these discussions will often deepen your connection and bring you and your partner closer together.
Sounds like a win-win!
Plan a date with your finances
Don't wait until your partner has charged up a storm on the credit card or another irritating financial issue arises to broach the subject. The goal is to have a calm, stress-free discussion when there's no particular money issue at hand.
So crack open that bottle of wine, turn on some smooth jazz and start opening your books.
The first thing you need to do is disclose where you each stand financially. You and your partner must know what your respective money situations are in order to map out a plan for your financial future. Begin by discussing your net worth, which is a summary of your assets (what you own) and liabilities (what you owe). You should also discuss how much you earn, how much you spend and save, and what your debt looks like – do you have student loans, credit card debt, or other debt?
Remember, this is a “date” – so put your best foot forward. When you’re in the midst of having the money conversation, focus on using effective communication skills and have a positive and understanding attitude, especially if something is surprising or upsetting to you. If you’ve suddenly found out that your partner is drowning in credit card debt, don’t jump on the offensive and make him or her feel ashamed about financial decisions he or she made in the past. Instead, take note of anything you might be concerned about with your partner’s financial situation, try to understand the full story, discuss what they’re doing to improve the situation and think about working towards a solution.
And because this is a date, sharing goes both ways - whatever you want to learn about your partner, they should get to learn the same about you. If you yourself have accrued a significant amount of debt, you owe it to your partner to be honest about it. It’s much easier to tell them early on how much you owe and figure out a plan of attack than wait until your debt has become an unmanageable amount and a big secret. Financial infidelity does not help any relationship!
Neither of you needs to be perfect, but you do need to be honest, on the same page and open to working through current and future money problems together.
What are your financial goals?
This is where you and your partner will go in-depth not just about how your money looks now, but what your plans are for the future and whether or not your financial habits and goals are compatible with one another.
Successful couples set joint money goals.
So ask your partner about his or her short-term, medium-term and long-term financial goals. How does he or she envision the future? What type of lifestyle does he or she imagine? You can brainstorm these separately or together, but when you set money goals in a relationship, you eventually have to consider your partner’s interests. For example, you may have the goal of buying a new car within a year and your partner may want to pay off their student loans. Together, you as a couple want to buy a house within five years. How might you prioritize these goals or make a plan to work toward all of them concurrently? Set clear financial goals and timelines with your partner.
Having specific goals for the future can make it easier to stick to a budget each month rather than just trying to curb your spending and save without a goal in mind.
We are thrilled to partner with Marielle for this series. In addition to her practice, Marielle is a passionate educator and speak regularly on personal finance topics aimed to empower and provide people with the tools and mindsets to build strong financial futures. She has been featured in Bloomberg, USA Today, On Wall Street and more and has served as a guest speaker on Yahoo! Finance, TheStreet and at various events and industry conferences.