Consider this. You’re on a date with someone you are pursuing a long-term serious relationship with. You’re trying to figure out the best way to bring up the topic of finances, yet you end up talking politics instead. Why is it so hard?
Even though 92% of Canadians want to date someone with a similar money outlook, only 50% actually know everything about their partner’s finances. This, according to a recent study we conducted at ING DIRECT.
Obviously, money isn’t a popular subject couples rush to talk about when they fall in love. But it is certainly something that should be on the radar. Money is a huge factor in the health of a relationship. Knowing how your partner views money, spends money and plans for the future are important considerations in a relationship, and topics that should be discussed sooner rather than later. It really is a fundamental values-based decision. How will we view money? What does it mean for us as a family?
When I look at my personal views on money, they stem back from how I was raised. We were a family of savers. I can remember from an early age doing odd jobs, working summers and getting a real sense of what it is like to work hard, and save! Those values also shaped how we view financial wellbeing in my own family.
I am not suggesting that we treat relationships like a business. However, as you become more involved with someone, couples need to discuss what each partner is bringing to the table in terms of their finances, and decide how they’re going to manage those finances going forward.
Luckily, my wife and I see eye to eye on the topic. We are savers by nature. We get a real kick out of watching our savings grow. We’re deliberate about buying things. We delay buying things so that we won’t need to use credit. We have a long term view on finances, probably best described as a marathon, not a sprint.
I strongly believe those lucky enough to be self-aware, those who are open about their views within a relationship, are the ones experiencing financial wellbeing in the end. They are not affected by other influences. Financial decisions are theirs to make. But it’s not easy. Do you ever find yourself ‘caught-up’ with what others are doing? Thoughts creep up in your mind; my neighbour’s kitchen sure is nice, maybe it’s time to renovate!
When you know who you are, what’s important for your family, and why you do what you do, you have a better perspective on how you spend your money. It’s about being in control of your choices, being in control of your life. Are you making these important decisions? Or is it your neighbour and the whirlwind of consumerism that surrounds us everyday?
Take Valentine’s Day for example. How much pressure did you feel this year to make sure you come home with something? You feel guilty if you don’t spend, and you feel torn about why you are spending on silly things. But before I start upsetting Cupid, I am not proposing that you boycott the Day. My message is simple: save first, pay yourself and your family first, and then if you want to splurge, do it. But understand who is in control, and who is making the decisions for your spending – how much you spend and when you spend it.
Couples should be having these discussions, and often. Money can no longer be a taboo subject. Learning and talking openly about it is a sure way to have financial wellbeing in your life and in our country.
I love what Gail Vaz-Oxlade recently said at a ‘Love and Money’ session at the ING DIRECT café in downtown Toronto: “Learning about money takes commitment. Read, think, talk, and brainstorm. That’s how you get better at it.”
Hope everyone had a terrific Valentine’s Day!